protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan erupted over the weekend.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: World Economic Forum.
which began in Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square over government plans to nearby
Gezi park and turn it into replica Ottoman-era army barracks, have turned into
a widespread rebuke of Erdogan’s decade-long rule, spreading to other major
Turkish cities such as Ankara and Izmir as well as several cities abroad with significant
Turkish ex-pat populations, the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.
cracked down on protesters by firing tear gas and water cannons at them, and
more than 900 protesters were arrested, the Associated
Press reported. But the police later retreated, leading to widespread
jubilation among the protestors.
Erdogan dismissed criticism that he has become a “dictator.”
don’t have dictatorship in my blood… I am a servant, I don’t have any interest
in making provocation,” Erdogan said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
increasingly authoritative policies have angered many Turks, especially within
the country’s secular community. Many have accused Erdogan of “Islamizing”
Turkey through crackdowns on opposition journalists, forced resignations of
secular military officials, and increasing Islamic-style laws such as a recent
ban on public alcohol consumption.