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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora