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Turkish Government Won't Condemn Silent Protests

A man stands during a silent protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul June 18, 2013.
Turkey's deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc says he does not object to the silent anti-government protests that have sprung up across the country.

The anti-government demonstrations over the past month had, until recent days, been marked by unrest between protesters and police.

The silent protests were inspired by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood motionless for eight hours Monday in Istanbul's Taksim Square - scene of much of the unrest.

Arinc said Wednesday such protests are peaceful, legal and should be encouraged. But he urged protesters not to endanger their health by standing still for so long.

Marches that began three weeks ago against plans to destroy a public park in Istanbul soon grew into protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the demonstrations. Some marchers threw rocks and gasoline bombs. At least four people have been killed and 7,500 hurt.

The opposition accuses the prime minister of trying to impose his conservative Islamist views on a secular state. He denies this and says the demonstrators are being manipulated by terrorists.