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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid