News / Middle East

    Tough Childhood, Political Battles Marked Turkey's Embattled PM

    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, June 25, 2013.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, June 25, 2013.
    Scott Bobb
    The recent protests in Turkey have brought together various opposition groups with vastly different political agendas. They have united in calling for the end of the 11-year-old government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, though the Turkish leader shows no sign of backing down.

    Istanbul's Kasimpasa neighborhood, a working class district where everybody knows and supports each other.

    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew up in this modest apartment building. The residents are proud of it.

    Some gather in the neighborhood tea shop to play cards and chat. Unemployed waiter Onder Terkan said Erdogan is popular because he is a devout Muslim.

    “We like our prime minister because he prays and fasts [like observant Muslims]. Our country is 98 percent Muslim and a prime minister who follows our beliefs, of course, everybody will like him,” Terkan said.

    Tough Childhood, Political Battles Marked Turkey's Embattled Prime Ministeri
    X
    July 02, 2013 6:52 PM
    The recent protests in Turkey have brought together various opposition groups with vastly different political agendas. They have united in calling for the end of the 11 year-old government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, though the Turkish leader shows no sign of backing down. VOA's Scott Bobb visited the embattled prime minister's childhood home in Istanbul for clues to his combative personality.

    Not everybody. Anti-government demonstrations continue in Taksim Square. They began one month ago over the proposed demolition of a park but have broadened into a general call for Erdogan to resign.

    “He [Erdogan] uses disproportionate force. He oppresses people. He sees only one side," said security guard Sati Ay. "We don't know why. He never listens to us. He just acts like a dictator.”

    But in Kaptanpasa where residents are known to be tough, many say the prime minister should not back down.   

    “Sometimes he's rough. Sometimes he's soft. And people like this characteristic [quality]. More than 50 percent of them support him,” stated textile worker Eris Dogan.

    Erdogan, now 59 years old, became prime minister in 2003. He has been re-elected twice by an ever-larger percentage of the voters.

    As a boy he worked odd-jobs to help support his family. He became active in political Islam as a teenager and served four months in jail in 1998 for reading an Islamist poem at a rally. As mayor of Istanbul in the mid-1990s, he was popular for cleaning up and modernizing the city.

    A professional football player in his youth, he built a stadium for his old team, Kasimpasa Spor, that bears his name. As prime minister he has launched many infrastructure and urban renewal projects. Under his leadership, Turkey's economy has quadrupled and the middle class has grown. But critics say his programs mostly favor the rich.

    In Kaptanpasa, some patrons privately express reservations about their favorite son.

    “He was a good friend. He was nice, a good person. And he was loyal to his friends. But I don't know now. Now he's too high, like in a helicopter in the sky,” said 72-year-old retiree Hidir Aydin.

    But Aydin does not want to speak ill of his former neighbor. Besides, he said, he was a good football player.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 03, 2013 1:42 PM
    Now we can see where all his headiness, hardliner and vendetta is coming from. When he walked out on Shimon Peres at a UN sideline conference between the two sometime ago, I suspected he must have extremist blood running in him. Now I've been proved right. He was even once jailed for it. Saying he is a good muslim is an understatement. He should better be described as an fanatical one. The hatred of Israel still runs in him as he hates the West even though he wants to launch Turkey into Europe - which sounds like double standard. Thank God for this revelation - the world should know who they are dealing with when next he stands to address the nation: rather better, when next he stands to address the civilized world

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora