News / Middle East

Turkey Protests Reveal Wider Political Struggle

Turkey Protests Reveal Wider Political Strugglei
X
June 04, 2013 4:50 PM
The continuing demonstrations in Turkey started as a protest against plans to develop a popular square in Istanbul that is a symbol of Turkey’s commitment to secularism. But analysts say the protests have expanded to cover a variety of other issues, including frustration with the ruling party’s attitude toward large segments of the population that do not support it. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Turkey Protests Reveal Wider Political Struggle
Al Pessin
The continuing demonstrations in Turkey started as a protest against plans to develop a popular square in Istanbul that is a symbol of Turkey’s commitment to secularism. But analysts say the protests have expanded to cover a variety of other issues, including frustration with the ruling party’s attitude toward large segments of the population that do not support it.
 
The protests have been focused on Istanbul’s Taksim Square, sparked by a government-backed development plan. But analysts say that’s not what it’s about anymore.
 
“The real agenda behind the protests is to say to the government, ‘Look, enough is enough'," said Gül Berna Özcan, a Turkey expert at Royal Holloway University of London. She said secular Turks feel angry and helpless.
 
“The key issue is that the AK Party missed a great opportunity. It could have proven to its skeptics in Turkey and elsewhere in the world that they respect democracy, and democracy and Islam could coexist and enhance each other," she said. 
 
The AK Party is the Islamist-inspired movement of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for 10 years and was re-elected two years ago with 50 percent of the vote - a huge margin by European standards.  It is his residence that protesters have put under siege, angry about policies that restrict the availability of alcohol, ban public displays of affection and intimidate the press, among other things.
 
Senior lecturer Bill Park of London’s King’s College said, “What you have here is what some people in Turkey call ‘the other 50 percent’ - that is, the 50 percent that don’t vote for the ruling party, that are now expressing a wider frustration.”
 
And the frustration is being expressed across the country, reflecting concern about a slide toward Islamism and what analysts call a lack of concern the government shows for the roughly half of the country that remains staunchly secular.
 
Prime Minister Erdogan fueled that feeling Monday, leaving as scheduled for a North Africa trip starting in Morocco, and dismissing the protesters as “naïve” and “emotional,” and manipulated by “extremist elements.”
 
Erdogan predicted the protests will be over by the time he returns in a few days.
 
Analysts are not so sure.
 
“It’s not so much that it’s a battle for the soul of Turkey, but there are two souls in competition.  And the real challenge here, I think, is how, whoever is in power in Turkey, Turkey finds ways to be politically more inclusive," said Park. 
 
The experts say there is something of a tradition of intolerance for the opposition in Turkey, regardless of who is in power.  But continuing protests will not help the prime minister’s desire to change the constitution and increase his own power, nor Turkey’s effort to join the European Union.  Professor Park says the best hope is that people around the prime minister convince him to end the polarization and address his opponents’ concerns in a constructive way.  

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: baxelrad from: Toronto
June 04, 2013 1:43 PM
This is a long time coming. If islamization is not stopped now in Turkey we will have another Taliban state in a decade. Forget alcohol. women will not be able to show their faces. Never mind drink what they want when they want and ware what they want where they want.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More