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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid