Erdo-gone? After Taksim, Turkish Leader’s Political Future May Hang in the Balance

  • Share
  • Read Later

By Sunday night, most of the businesses on Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s biggest pedestrian street, seemed to have had their front teeth knocked in. ATM screens glared and winked stupidly from behind broken glass monitors. Display windows were smashed up, facades and metal shutters covered with antigovernment graffiti. Near Bekar Street, young people had taken over a number of buildings. Music, along with leftist banners, wafted out from their windows. Profiting from the lack of police, which had withdrawn from the area on June 1, vendors at the northern end of the street hawked bottles of beer, in plain and symbolic defiance of a recent ban on retail sales of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (The bill, rushed through by parliament last week, hasn’t yet been signed into law by President Abdullah Gul.)

At Gezi Park, the scene of a sit-in that had been repeatedly and violently dispersed by the police last week, fueling popular outrage as well as mass demonstrations and violent clashes in dozens of Turkish cities, the mood was jubilant. The park, whose planned demolition and conversion into a shopping mall styled as a replica of an Ottoman barracks and shopping arcade made it ground zero of the protests, brimmed with groups of young men and women camped out on the grass. They lit campfires and chanted slogans demanding the resignation of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At the adjacent Taksim Square, normally heaving with traffic, thousands of protesters sang, waved Turkish flags and locked hands in a traditional line dance. Vendors sold roast chestnuts, cucumbers and slices of watermelon.

(MORE: Is Taksim Erdogan’s Tahrir Square?)

A few hundred yards away, beyond the scorched skeletons of three city buses, the landscape appeared even more surreal. Down the hill, waves of people attempting to reach protesters in another part of the city hurled themselves against lines of policemen, some throwing the gas canisters fired against them over the walls of a nearby soccer stadium, others ripping up road signs and giant billboards to construct barricades. The 20-floor InterContinental, a five-star hotel, appeared unmoved by the chaos below. Unlike most of the businesses on Istiklal, it had somehow emerged unscathed — no broken windows, not even a trace of graffiti. Inside its spacious, pristine lobby, young people in gas masks and construction helmets chatted animatedly, lounged on sofas and charged their phone batteries as small groups of bewildered tourists looked on. The hotel, it turned out, had decided to open its doors to the protesters.

A pair of young women — one in jean shorts and a fashionable pink hoodie, the other in sweatpants and a white T-shirt, both heavily made up — stretched out on a pair of chairs. Only a pair of snorkeling goggles and a gas mask wrapped around the neck of the one in the hoodie made it clear they weren’t just friends reclining after a day of shopping.

“I voted in every election, but I never really cared that much about politics,” said Pelin Cavdur, the girl in the sweatpants. It was her first time demonstrating anything, she added. “I’m fighting to protect my way of life. Erdogan’s playing with our future, he’s not letting us breathe.”

(PHOTOS: Turkey’s Mass Protests)

“Everyone’s agitated, there’s too many bans, the alcohol law, the ban on people kissing in public,” said her friend Tugba Orbay, referring to a recent warning issued by Ankara subway officials to act “in accordance with moral rules” after security cameras recorded a couple kissing. “Everyone feels like Turkey is becoming Iran,” she said. “The cup has overflowed.”

“It’s good that people have come out en masse. Erdogan felt that he was more powerful than the people,” she added. “But now the tables have turned.”

Erdogan himself does not see it that way. Throughout the protests, he has remained defiant, refusing to acknowledge the protesters as anything more than “marginal elements.” In a series of TV appearances on Sunday, he dismissed them as “looters” and “bums,” called Twitter a “scourge” and seemed to suggest that anyone who drank alcohol was an alcoholic. The significance of his only concession — that Gezi Park would not be converted into a shopping mall after all — faded immediately when he declared that he would proceed with plans to build a mosque in Taksim, whether the protesters or the main opposition liked it or not. On Monday, ignoring suggestions that he should adjust his travel plans, and downplaying the protests’ importance, he departed on a four-day tour to North Africa.

(MORE: Erdogan’s Tricky Ties With the U.S.)

It was exactly the kind of imperious behavior that has riled Erdogan’s critics in recent years and which made him, more than anything or anyone else, the target of the ongoing protests. First elected in 2002, Erdogan has since marched his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to two more consecutive victories in the polls, including a landslide win in 2011, in which the AKP won 50% of the vote, nearly twice as much as the main opposition. In its first years at the helm, Erdogan’s government passed a number of democratic reforms, reducing the power of the once omnipotent, ever meddling military, granting new cultural rights to the country’s Kurdish minority, and cracking down on police torture and honor crimes against women.

Around 2005, however, just as accession negotiations with the E.U. commenced, its reformist zeal began to fizzle. The E.U. talks have since ground to a halt, and Erdogan seems to have busied himself with consolidating power across all institutions of the state and keeping the roaring economy on track, while jailing opponents inside the military and harassing dissenting journalists. With his power almost unchecked, the protesters say, he has grown increasingly patronizing, domineering and allergic to criticism.

(MORE: TIME’s 2011 Interview With Prime Minister Erdogan)

Today, however, after a week of protests that have left at least two people dead and 3,000 injured, Erdogan may be becoming more vulnerable than ever. While the vast majority of the Prime Minister’s electorate seems to have stayed at home — most of the protesters TIME encountered were leftists, students and secularists, people who had never voted for Erdogan in the first place — there are signs of dissent among his political allies. Zaman, a newspaper owned by supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Muslim cleric who had until recently remained close to Erdogan, and whose followers are said to be a powerful force within the Turkish bureaucracy and the police, has run a number of critical articles. In Monday’s edition, Ihsan Dagi, a veteran commentator, slammed Erdogan and his government for their “I’ll do as I please” attitude. A number of AKP bigwigs, meanwhile, though far from openly defying Erdogan, have shown they are not reading from the same script as their leader.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologized for the excessive use of force by the police, acknowledging that the Gezi protesters, with the exception of “marginal and illegal groups,” had “shown their legitimate, logical and righteous reaction.” He later agreed to meet with protest leaders on Wednesday morning. As of Tuesday evening, thousands of people were still out on the streets in Istanbul, but the clashes had died down. “In the short run, this has weakened Erdoğan,” Suat Kınıklıoğlu, a former member of Parliament, told TIME. “Overall, many AK supporters are unhappy with how he dealt with this.”

(MORE: Erdogan and Turkey’s Ottoman Past)

The biggest challenge to Erdogan may have come from President Gul, who helped the Prime Minister mold the AKP from an outlawed Islamist party in 2001 into a regional political juggernaut. Gul, who has served as President for the past six years, is yet to announce whether he intends to run again in 2014, a decision that would pit him directly against Erdogan, who is known to covet the post and, after two terms, is no longer eligible to run for Prime Minister. Over the course of the protests, however, Gul has made it clear that he and the Prime Minister have drifted apart. When Erdogan insisted in an interview that people should exercise their democratic rights at the ballot box and not on the streets, Gul, within hours, retorted that democracy consisted of more than elections. Perhaps it was no coincidence that, after the President’s remarks, the news networks — previously cowed into a blackout — began covering the protests around the clock.

While the protests are yet to acquire the kind of critical mass that would force Erdogan to even consider stepping down as Prime Minister, the next few days may be crucial to his hopes of winning the presidency next year. “If he comes back from Africa, takes a conciliatory tone, he may have time to bounce back,” says Kınıklıoğlu.

48 comments
tsabar
tsabar

So ececan, how many free ride buses and bribe money does it take, to greet Erdogan at the airport? Remember Hitler had supporters too,and so does Assad and Putin. Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the worst monster of all?......

ececan
ececan

Erdogan is the best thing happened to country in last few decades. He is not going anywhere with these few voices. Turkey is a big country and it elects and changes the government by elections. Not with these few voices on the street or military coups (anymore! thanks to Erdogan).


I am disappointed with Time's single sided news approach! Why don't you show the love and support he got at when arrive to coutnry at 2 am?

ChangizSirjani
ChangizSirjani

Finally turkish government joined other democratic country by heavy use of police :)))

starsleeper
starsleeper

would not tell this to my office-mates since everyone around me is opposing (or should I say hate?) Erdo-gone(as you call him)  and treating like a traitor to supporters of him but I voted for this guy in every election and will vote for him in the upcoming elections. This country has achieved great success in his lead.

Btw i respect to protestors' cause. They have some point but they are not enough to change my mind. 


Kivanch-K
Kivanch-K

This is not a "Turkish Spring"   We Turks achieved our spring 94 years ago. Turkiye is already a secular democracy. And Erdogan, unlike Kaddafi or Mobarak, is an elected prime minister. But remember: Adolf Hitler was an elected leader too. And Erdogan is using democratic system to destroy democracy. He is drunk with power. And now we Neo-Young Turks are gonna stop him. 

tsabar
tsabar

Istanbulites alone can not overthrow Erdogan the master of monsters, this tyrant has to be rebuked by all Turks and the world community. He should not be invited to any foreign country and blacklisted from all forums and international gatherings.

I am disgusted,with all the countries that extend diplomatic courtesies to him ,members of his cabinet, and party members for political expediency. He is vulgar, arrogant, bigoted tyrant and a bully. I would like to see "him dangle" of a tree in Gezi Parki.


azmalhome
azmalhome

Who those Muslim will go to suck the leg of non-Muslim powerful leader around when they got the trouble? The world’s popular media says “those are good Muslim”.

http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/

TahsinErenalpd
TahsinErenalpd

Mr. Erdogan came to this situation are not allowed to charge these events because the event yesterday, Iranian Foreign güçler.Example, provocateurs If we would have been arrested.


İ think that provocatuers reason is a İran,Syria and maybe Russia..


eren.d
eren.d

Such an unfortunate turn of events for Akp. Though i think they are powerful enough to bounce back from this, i hope they learn a few lessons and don't  intervene with peoples personal lives. 

Milly
Milly

In my mind it's very simple, it's all going to be about what the people want. If the majority of people want things to change, then it's going to be different. The reason we are seeing so many more uprisings lately is because people not only want change, but they feel they can actually bring it about. In the past when a country was ruled by a dictator the people had almost no action available for recourse. But with the success of the Arab spring, particularly Egypt, people feel more empowered than ever. If the masses don't want something, it's going to have a very hard time coming about in a climate where people are willing to mobilize. 

deliogul
deliogul

It is true that Taksim does not represent the whole country; at least not yet (even if people have risen and been fighting and suffering in 60+ cities and en masse for the same cause). However, the trick is that, and both local and international reports on the issue fail to grasp it, the center of the pearl in Prime Minister's crown, Istanbul, has been de facto ruled by young people (who do not really have that much of an agenda and mostly just having fun) for days and, honestly, way better than the Prime Minister did. Photos and TV could not reflect it but it is more or less resembles the Paris Commune, only that the people in Taksim do not use weapons (they have a developed sense of self-control against violence) and they do not have sharp ideologies. The new site plan of the Taksim Square (which the barracks is a part of) will make it almost impossible to form barricades and start a struggle (similar to what had happened to Paris after the Haussmann renovations); so it was the perfect time to take action.

Also a correction, Erdogan is serving his third term as the Prime Minister and the only thing that keeps him away from reelection is his party's regulations (which are not that binding, contrary to the hype created by the party members), not the Turkish law.

mit_student
mit_student

Continuing my comment below:

5) There are 49 newspaper writers in prison. Turkey ranks 154th in press freedom in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_Freedom_Index). It has a similar ranking to Pakistan and Gambia. A lot of countries such as Myanmar, Iraq, Palestine, Congo, Afghanistan and Jordan have better press freedom than Turkey.  The citizens of Turkey who believe in democracy are seriously concerned that this is only going to get worse.

(6) Domestic violence has increased exponentially since this government came to power. The number of women murders in Turkey increased by 1,400 percent  since this government came to power. As far as divorce cases are concerned, 85 percent of all applications in Istanbul are related to violence. Please read more here: http://bianet.org/english/gender/132753-number-of-women-murders-increased-by-1400-percent   AND http://www.voanews.com/content/turkeys-murder-rate-of-women-skyrockets-117093538/170517.html

Turkish women have a growing sense of domestic violence and loss of rights. It is reported that women who don't wear the hijab are not offered government jobs and teaching positions all over the country.

In short, most modern people in Turkey are worried that the country is slowly turning into the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

This is why the protests are happening.

Turkish people believe in democracy and freedom of expression just like Americans do. They are worried of a future Turkey which is run by Islamic law, which sees abolition of women's rights, and a government that is entirely authoritarian.


TanerErtunc
TanerErtunc

if a prime minister is against alcohol for health reasons proven by science that is acceptable, but if it is because it is written in Quran then it exactly means changing Turkey into an islamic state (which is also a crime in current law)

resimji
resimji

It seems that Mr. Piotr suffers from the worst disease a reporter can suffer from, and that is loss of objectivity, or maybe on a more benign level pure laziness... He has let his reporting be colored by the social circle he socialises with in the Galata/Cihangir areas of Istanbul. His little bubble of life isn't representative of Turkey, and if he was truly interested in reporting, he'd venture further and farther afield, try to make interviews with people of different social backgrounds and viewpoints. The biggest thing about these protests is the negative space. The millions upon millions of Turks sitting at home with growing disgust at the rioutous acts of spoiled upper middle class kids trying to overturn by force the only True democracy in the Region. The alcohol ban the protesters point to as evidence, and that your reporters point to as the smoking gun of ongoing Islamization, is no more restrictive than laws on the books and enforced in no less than most US States, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and France. Have all of them become Islamist? Get real. This was a simple law about protecting one's society from the worst effects of alcohol abuse. Anyone who tells me it needs to be a right to be able to buy hard liquor at any corner store at ALL times of day does have an alcohol abuse problem. Pointing to one Subway announcement in Ankara as evidence of Islamization is even more ridiculous . None of us were there, none of us saw the context. Subway cars are public spaces that we all have to share. There's a difference between a peck which is not going to concern anyone and that I doubt would have warranted this warning, and then there is heavy petting and frottage, which can make others uncomfortable. I've seen that kind of heavy petting draw a response from the conductor even in a liberal country like Switzerland. And to say that Erdogan is directly responsible for that and that he should go, is ludicrous. My people have fought with blood for this democracy, and will fight with blood to maintain it as such. No one can steal away my vote. Just because their desired leader failed to get enough votes to lead the country. People like Pelin Cavdur cannot steal Democracy away from us by force. This is not about a tree, this is not about freedoms, this is about a bunch of arrogant riotous people who think they can forcefully impose change. He who comes by the ballot, can only leave by the ballot. They should work on trying to convince the 75% of the country who didn't vote for their leadership in the last elections, rather than destroying public property and disrupting people's lives. They claim this wasn't about politics... why then was the square full of banners for the TKP, CHP, and TKIP (All left leaning, socialist ideology parties, one of them an illegal Terrorist Communist Party). These are anti-democrats, who will never accept a leadership that isn't their own, and have been dealt with quite gently so far. I'd like to see the US police response, or UK's if protesters took stolen bulldozers and started bearing down upon the White House or 10 Downing Street. I wonder what the death toll would be? In Turkey so far? 0 by police. One was killed the other day in Antakya by unidentified assailants who may have just been people who had a grudge against that person, and used the chaos to kill him with impunity, and the other was a protester blocking roads who was run over by a taxi driver frightened by the crowds that sped through the crowd. They should just hope that they stop their protests before the patience of the silent majority runs out.

seniormoment1
seniormoment1

Protests discourage rather than encourage economic growth.  After all no business want it equipment and property to be damaged.  When ATM screens are bashed in, will the expensive machine be repaired or permanently removed.  Decades after the Watts riots in Los Angeles, California, USA, there are no chain grocery stores.  Name brand grocery stores that had one or more grocery stores in the Watts neighborhood, destroyed or seriously damaged, permanently closed stores in the Watts neighborhood.  All Turkish students are accomplishing is denying themselves access to future services and shopping along Istiklal Avenue.  Small businesses damaged may try to recovery but most likely chain stores will simply disappear from Istiklal Avenue and be replaced by boarded up. empty stores.

Students and unemployed should not protest at all unless they can do so peacefully and without causing financial losses for stores that remain open during the protests.

isiddiqui2013
isiddiqui2013

Noone is making Turkey into a Islamic state. Banning alcohol after certain hours or sale of liquor not near schools is nothing new in western countries. His focus has been to thrust Turkey into the modern era, modernizing Istanbul, preparing for the 2020 Olympics. Only those determined to fight Islam and Muslims believe otherwise

EfeCataltepe
EfeCataltepe

Erdogan will be gone soon. His own party will drop him. Cracks are already showing. He may have little over 50 percent vote but remember Hitler was also elected with majority vote. Erdogan's 50% vote does not make him a legitimate leader. He is going as far as calling his 50% on the streets against the demonstrators and pull his own country into a civil war. He is completely insane. He needs to be stopped. BTW - shame on Obama for accepting him with open arms right after May Day when he did same type of brutality against the demonstrators. Obama needs to take a stance and decide if he will continue to support this lunatic or support basic principles of democracy in the world.

ceyhun3
ceyhun3

this is not about only being an islamic country, this is about authority, foreign policy(especially about syria), interfere to people's life style, interfere with the judiciary etc.. erdogan came with rhetoric of democracy but he behave just the opposite.

efetoto
efetoto

He will be gone sooner or later. Turkey will always remain as a secular country. No one cna turn Turkey into an Islamic state.

ececan
ececan

@tsabar Now this is funny! I hope you are not Turkish. Because obviously you don't know how much people love him. Forget giving money to people to come there, people would die to go there to support him. Gushh! what a word, they paid money to 10s of thousands of people money to go there. Did they also pay money to every one to vote for him? Half of the country?


shwin
shwin

@ececan 

Yes all those barbarians cheered about crushing all protesters and secularists. We may be smaller in numbers but we are the ones that are carrying this economy that you also benefit from. You crush us , you crush the economy. I think Erdogan has to step back from violent comments and sure apologize for actions taken. 

I am impressed with Time's dedication to delivering true news. 

Turkish Tvs were showing documentaries instead... They were all afraid that Erdogan would crush them too...

dos360
dos360

@Kivanch-K and just what are the achievements of the Young Turks? 1908 - the deposal of Abdulhamid II, also in 1908 - the loss of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1910 - the massacre of stray dogs in Istanbul, 1912 - the loss of Tripolitania and Rhodes, 1913 - the loss of the Balkans, 1915 - the controversial deportation of the Armenians, 1917 - the Salonica fire and resulting destruction of the Turkish quarters and cemeteries there by Venizelos, 1918 - the loss of the Holy Land and signing of the infamous Armistice, 1919 - the beginning of Greek occupation of western Anatolia, 1922 - the exile of Mehmed VI, and in 1923: the end of the Ottoman Empire. Precisely what one might expect from a secretive and marginal group organised around masonic rites and the principles of the French revolution. It was under the Young Turk regime that our beautiful country was hung on a hook, slaughtered and disassembled like a beast. In all fairness, the Young Turks were not traitors, but they were incredibly incompetent. Turkey has no time to waste with incompetent leadership any more. Even after a decade of successful AKP rule, Turkey remains one of Europe's poorest countries. Turkey also faces Kurdish irridentism in the eastern provinces. This is not a good time to play Che Guavera and paris Commune. Stay put. Erdogan is in charge because he is the lawful leader of Turkey. That is non-negotiable. There will be no discussion of an alternative government until the next elections.

ececan
ececan

@tsabar I am from Istanbul and support Erdogan. Most of us do. This is demonstrations are not all about how he governs the country. Since there is no more military coups, so this is the new game they came up with. I should say, it is better game, but sorry it won't work! Things are already settling back and you will see how he handles the situation. He is a great leader and he knows how to govern. 


CaglaAblaAltintas
CaglaAblaAltintas

@mit_student hi, you covered the situation perfectly. Just a few minor corrections to make: 
May 19th is not the birthday of Atatürk, It is the date Mustafa Kemal set foot on Samsun, the beginning of the independency war and basically foundation of Turkish Republic.
"It is reported that women who don't wear the hijab are not offered government jobs and teaching positions all over the country." Well, it is reported but not very common. Especially in public institutions and schools it is still forbidden to cover hair (which is not fair i think, and I am a secular and probably that is the reason) But it "happens" too often that government contracts are won by Islamic-rooted private companies; municipalities choose (or again they "happen" to win the bidding) subcontractors known to be in the circle of Islamic society.
Thank you for your support.

ececan
ececan

@TanerErtunc There is no alcohol ban or such. It is regulation like any other modern country, age limits to who can buy alcohol etc.


tsabar
tsabar

@resimji I guess you'll try to paint a pretty picture no matter what you look at. Including a toilet bowl.

budurSudur
budurSudur

@resimjiIt is obvious that the usernames Resimji and ObjectiveDemocrat are the same group of people. Their English is not bad, but still they seem to be making the same grammer/spelling errror :) I will post the same message to your other comments under different names, sorry ...

... This observation I am making is at the "heart of the matter" as to why we protest in Turkey. Let me explain one more time:

- Our claim is that AKP government has established a totalitarian (at the brink of Fascist) order in Turkey. And we can't stand it anymore. The elements of this system are organizations/people like the commentator above, who work in an organized manner to distort the facts in a systematic manner (for example by writting multiple comments as above under different names), pressure/buy-out media (specifically speaking, assigning an "İmam" to every media outlet and monitoring their broadcast and keeping them in line), requesting free advertisement for Mr Erdoğan (there is a newspaper rule that says there will be picture of Mr. erdoğan at the front page of every news paper every day) 

- The above Media rules are even worse for other key pallers of a just / progressive / elitarian society:

1) The central university placement exam has been compromised for the last 5 years (this results in inefficietn use/allocation of scarce resources) and moreover; takes away the most precious posession of the youth: Hope+Dreams

2) Police/Accounting/Finance/Telecommunication organizations have been completely overtaken by Mr Erdogan's cronies (again a great misuse / allocation of resources; resulting in an expensive, unpredictable business/social society) I experience this situation in the business world on a daily basis. There are very few contracts that go without bribes

3) The judicial system has been hijacked and the rulings are used as a means of punishment for the outspoken individuals (ofcourse and all ruling; the rulings that are financial/not heard of much are the majority of the critical rulings; these are the ones I am talking about)

- As for who is protesting: I beg-to-differ with the opnion that the protestors are extreme groups. The evidence offered by the commentor is that he has only seen the flags of the communist party, left wing parties, and that the demonstrations are only happening at the Taksim Square. Ofcourse, there is a possibility that the gentleman is just making an innocient misjudgement; given all the news outlets have been banned from broadcasting / talking with the demonstrators (incliding CNNTürk until two days ago). Most probably, the only news he is getting is from his friends that are linked to AKP just like himself. Clearly there were no flags that were ready at the moment that the demonstrators prepared ahead of time that said "I am a Mother", "I am a Banker", "I am a Businessman". or a banner that said "Bribe Giving Businessman Association", "Cheated University Exam Attendants Association"; the flags that made it to the poles were the flags of the parties mentioned by the gentleman above. However, the new ordered flags of the football teams, etc shall be ready by the following weekend :)

- Last but not least, a few words on a key error/ strategic calculation mistake the gentleman (as well as Mr. Erdoğan and AKP) seems to be making in chosing the role model for the system of government. They seem to aspire to Putin of Russia, Chavez of Venezuela, King Abdul-Aziz of  Suudi-Arabia. Although a central / totaliterian governing model is quite efficient and sustainable for these countries that depend on exploitation of natural resources (given such an economy depends on capital investment, central control, efficiency of scale), a country like Turkey needs creative people, value-added service economy. The middle class that the gentleman is bad mouthing is that very creative force behind the Turkish economy. Although this group might be smaller than the people that work in the government, municipality jobs or the group that collects handouts, if this group were to decide that it is not worth working hard, there is no way that the Turkish economy can sustain a $10,000 GNP per capita. Unfortunately, the current motor of the economy a.k.a. constrution boom will last with a bust like in every country (look at Spain 2003-2010, USA 2001-2008). İf the current governing policies continue, when the day of the bust arrives, the only people that will be left in Turkey will be the AKP supportes that get handouts from the government. That doesn't seem to be a good  crowd to work with. At the end of the day, even the AKP will need some productive/creative people that tax if they need to continue oiling the wheels with hand-outs, right? 

CaglaAblaAltintas
CaglaAblaAltintas

@resimji you are lying. I am Turkish. nothing to hide. 25 years old, psychologist, I am bisexual and atheist (was not shouting it out so far, because it is my personal life) living in Bursa as Human Resources Executive in a software company. I pay taxes and never been arrested. I do not support any political parties, because non of them represent me. And I walked in demonstrations every day so far! I work at daytime and walk at evening now. Because i lived in fear for the last 5 years in this country, thinking maybe there is no place for me in my homeland.
I have no querral with the other %50 of the society. I believe women should not choose between religion's order to cover hair and go to school or work in public institutions. No one should be forced to hide their ideas and beliefs, including religious notions and ABOUT religious notions.
If this makes me a "looter" (Çapulcu!) in the eyes of a dictator, I am proud of it. 

budurSudur
budurSudur

@resimji

It is obvious that the usernames Resimji and ObjectiveDemocrat are the same group of people. Their English is not bad, but still they seem to be making the same grammer/spelling errror :) I will post the same message to your other comments under different names, sorry ...

... This observation I am making is at the "heart of the matter" as to why we protest in Turkey. Let me explain one more time:

- Our claim is that AKP government has established a totalitarian (at the brink of Fascist) order in Turkey. And we can't stand it anymore. The elements of this system are organizations/people like the commentator above, who work in an organized manner to distort the facts in a systematic manner (for example by writting multiple comments as above under different names), pressure/buy-out media (specifically speaking, assigning an "İmam" to every media outlet and monitoring their broadcast and keeping them in line), requesting free advertisement for Mr Erdoğan (there is a newspaper rule that says there will be picture of Mr. erdoğan at the front page of every news paper every day) 

- The above Media rules are even worse for other key pallers of a just / progressive / elitarian society:

1) The central university placement exam has been compromised for the last 5 years (this results in inefficietn use/allocation of scarce resources) and moreover; takes away the most precious posession of the youth: Hope+Dreams

2) Police/Accounting/Finance/Telecommunication organizations have been completely overtaken by Mr Erdogan's cronies (again a great misuse / allocation of resources; resulting in an expensive, unpredictable business/social society) I experience this situation in the business world on a daily basis. There are very few contracts that go without bribes

3) The judicial system has been hijacked and the rulings are used as a means of punishment for the outspoken individuals (ofcourse and all ruling; the rulings that are financial/not heard of much are the majority of the critical rulings; these are the ones I am talking about)

- As for who is protesting: I beg-to-differ with the opnion that the protestors are extreme groups. The evidence offered by the commentor is that he has only seen the flags of the communist party, left wing parties, and that the demonstrations are only happening at the Taksim Square. Ofcourse, there is a possibility that the gentleman is just making an innocient misjudgement; given all the news outlets have been banned from broadcasting / talking with the demonstrators (incliding CNNTürk until two days ago). Most probably, the only news he is getting is from his friends that are linked to AKP just like himself. Clearly there were no flags that were ready at the moment that the demonstrators prepared ahead of time that said "I am a Mother", "I am a Banker", "I am a Businessman". or a banner that said "Bribe Giving Businessman Association", "Cheated University Exam Attendants Association"; the flags that made it to the poles were the flags of the parties mentioned by the gentleman above. However, the new ordered flags of the football teams, etc shall be ready by the following weekend :)

- Last but not least, a few words on a key error/ strategic calculation mistake the gentleman (as well as Mr. Erdoğan and AKP) seems to be making in chosing the role model for the system of government. They seem to aspire to Putin of Russia, Chavez of Venezuela, King Abdul-Aziz of  Suudi-Arabia. Although a central / totaliterian governing model is quite efficient and sustainable for these countries that depend on exploitation of natural resources (given such an economy depends on capital investment, central control, efficiency of scale), a country like Turkey needs creative people, value-added service economy. The middle class that the gentleman is bad mouthing is that very creative force behind the Turkish economy. Although this group might be smaller than the people that work in the government, municipality jobs or the group that collects handouts, if this group were to decide that it is not worth working hard, there is no way that the Turkish economy can sustain a $10,000 GNP per capita. Unfortunately, the current motor of the economy a.k.a. constrution boom will last with a bust like in every country (look at Spain 2003-2010, USA 2001-2008). İf the current governing policies continue, when the day of the bust arrives, the only people that will be left in Turkey will be the AKP supportes that get handouts from the government. That doesn't seem to be a good  crowd to work with. At the end of the day, even the AKP will need some productive/creative people that tax if they need to continue oiling the wheels with hand-outs, right? 

dwade32
dwade32

@resimji You clearly have no idea what's going on. The protesters, first of all, arent just left-leaning spoiled urban youth (I dont why the writer said that), yes they have their banners up but you can talk to most taxi drivers, vendors and other non-spoiled usually conservative people and they mostly give similar responses, the reason being that the protests are calling for him to resign not because people's own candidate lost but because the prime minister had the audacity to treat and brand peacefu protesters as looters and marginals and beat them and spray them with pepper spray and pressurized water. NONE of the initial protesters were violent or inciting, saying otherwise is blatant propoganda and demogogy

ObjectiveDemocrat
ObjectiveDemocrat

@isiddiqui2013 Even though I completely support the alcohol ban, for health and pedestrian safety related reason, what I don't agree with is the elected government's interference in the lives of its citizens. In what modern/western/civilized country is it deemed to be acceptable for the government to authorize hospital house calls to the parents and husbands of women who performed pregnancy tests in order to inform them about such procedures as part of the government's campaign to instruct families to have at least 3 children? In what modern/civilized/western country is it acceptable  to have announcements in the metro stations reminding passengers that kissing is not acceptable behavior? In what modern/western/civilized country is it acceptable for the government to throw gas bombs inside the hospital, to instruct the telecommunication companies to suspend service in the area of demonstrations, to pressurize TV channels not to broadcast the protests, and going back to the original subject, for the Leader of the country to call everyone who drinks alcohol an alcoholic? We can agree to disagree as all of us are entitled to our opinions, but please don't make such conclusive and accusatory statements without considering all facts from an objective standpoint. Kind Regards....

Kivanch-K
Kivanch-K

@dos360 @Kivanch-K  Most of those events happened because of the sick Ottoman Emp. rule. Young Turks acted to reform the corrupted empire, pushed the Sultan to make reforms and eventually lead to replacing monarchy with a republic. Those wars were lost because of the backwardness of the 19th century Ottoman Emp. You say that Erdogan is the lawfull leader but as I said Hitler was elected lawfully too. We are not against AKP. We are against the direction that Erdogan leads to. Also democracy is not just about elections. Even if you get %70 of the votes, you cannot use that power to oppress the %30. 

ThirdPartyVagin
ThirdPartyVagin

@moderateGuy @TahsinErenalpd  Thasin could have a point. I am not one for believing in conspiracies, but the possibilities exist. Iran and Russia could have stirred trouble because of Syria. This is only a speculation...until proven...

mit_student
mit_student

@CaglaAblaAltintas @mit_student

Good point Cagla, I forgot to mention that fact about May 19th. From the wikipedia page, "Atatürk was born in 1881. But his birth date isnot known. In one of hisspeeches, he declared that he considers his birthday as May 19, in clear reference to the beginning of thenational strugglein 1919." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commemoration_of_Atat%C3%BCrk,_Youth_and_Sports_Day)

I would love it if you shared additional resources regarding the widespread corruption in Turkey and the Islamic companies getting most of the government bids.

As far as I understand, even though the ban exists, it is not strictly upheld by the police anymore, so a lot of women are in fact wearing them.

Thanks,

Kyle

TanerErtunc
TanerErtunc

@ececan @TanerErtunc I did not write that alcohol is banned. Besides I support the regulation. You do not need to reply if it is not related to the comment.

resimji
resimji

@dwade32 @resimji Mr. or Ms. Wade, believe me I do have a clue. Unlike you I'm Turkish, and I live and work in Taksim. I saw substantial restraint from Riot police in the face of rocks, stones and molotovs thrown at them. The onslaught they came under would have resulted in the use of live rounds in most Western democracies, many of which I have lived in. Let's see you try to resist arrest in the US, try to throw a punch or two at police. Yes, it's not something you'd dream of is it? Yet in my country, you join in on this kind of anarchist attack on Democracy.

dos360
dos360

@ObjectiveDemocrat@isiddiqui2013
1- I didn't quite understand your complaint about house calls to the parents but the recommendation for at least three children stands to reason. Turkey's population growth has come to a stand still. The only people who are still having children are the Kurds and their children are unlikely to save Turkey's social security services from bankruptcy.
2- The public announcement made in an Ankara underground station about kissing in public has nothing to do with Erdogan at all. It is not reasonable to expect Erdogan to deal with complaints like that. He is Turkey's prime minister, not baby-sitter.
3- If some television stations acted responsibly by not covering street violence in their news programmes, then they should be congratulated for their patriotism. Remember that publicity is precisely what those mobsters want and sadly they are getting it.
4- You are right about your last complaint. It is an overstatement to say that everybody who drinks is an alcoholic. I'll concede you that.

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Erdogan is Turkey's prime minister because we elected him to that post, three times in a row. Burning buses and cars and clashing with the riot police are not the legitimate way to change Turkey's government. That cannot be tolerated. Last year, I have protested against a law introduced by this government myself. The government had introduced a copy of EU animal 'protection' law in Turkey. We took exception to that legislation because we knew that in EU countries stray animals are exterminated. We assembled at Gezi Park, precisely where last weekends supposedly peaceful protesters assembled themselves. then we marched up and down the Istiklal St carrying placards and shouting slogans. The riot police were there, too. No police cars were set to fire, nobody came to blows with the police, nobody smashed ATMs or shop windows and nobody called on the government to resign. The police stood by and watched us with what might politely be described as disinterest. Given that we were able to make our protest shouting hate-filled slogans and provoking the riot police to fire gas canisters at us, it is unfair to blame either Erdogan or the riot police for what has transpired. You have only yourselves to blame for the recent unpleasantness in our streets.

ThirdPartyVagin
ThirdPartyVagin

@dos360 You mentioned during Ecevit and Demirel's leadership, they brought the country to the edge of the precipice. Yes, it is true, but why don't you mention the reasons behind? Could it be that the role Erbakan and his henchmen played during those years had a lot to do with it? As for Turkish economy, what you see from there, we see it from a different angle from here. Inflation hovering at 7% annually, with  a high unemployment rate of 9%, $530 billion in foreign debt which $104 billion of short term loan has to be paid in full by 2014. What will happen when Saudi Arabia and Qatar stop channeling billions into Turkish banks to keep the economy afloat? How is it that the PM's son-in-law gets to own the second largest media group in Turkey un-opposed and with the help of an Arab Bank, which by the way is against the law  for a foreign entity to own media. These are a few examples of what is happening today in Turkey from a foreiger's view. It makes me sad to see that nothing has changed in Turkey...

dos360
dos360

@Kivanch-K @dos360 The Ottoman Empire disintegrated immediately after the deposal of Abdulhamid II. The only possible explanation for that is this: In 1907, Turkey had an astute leader in the person of Abdulhamid II, whereas in 1908 Turkey was in the hands of fools. The problem with Hitler is the same. Instead of inviting Kaiser Wilhelm II back to Berlin, they followed the leadership of rabble rousers with nonsensical ideologies. That is why Germany was ruined. Leadership matters!!! In 1979, with Ecevit and Demirel at the helm, Turkey stoodd on the edge of the precipice. In 1980, General Kenan Evren took over and we have had a period of swift recovery in the Ozal years. In the nineties, Ecevit and Demirel returned to power so that the former was prime minister and the latter, president. With the incompetets in charge, Turkey ended up in a right mess just like 1979. In 2002, Erdogan came to power and Turkey became the economic and diplomatic powerhouse that it is now. If Erdogan goes, then Turkey will go all the way back to 1979, or 1999. We will end up with power cuts, foreign currency shortages, street violence, economic collapse, probably civil war and an independent Kurdistan in the east. Psychologists have developed intelligence tests which determine a man's ability to detect patterns and predict what figure or number comes after a series. The pattern in history is fairly easy to detect. Every time a patriotic and legitimate ruler is overthrown by force, Turkey plunged into a period of crisis and destruction. It has happened to Turkey several times since 1908 and the Hitler example you cite is just another example of street action taking over legitimate government.

CaglaAblaAltintas
CaglaAblaAltintas

@mit_student @CaglaAblaAltintas I have to be honest that I don't have many credible resources about that fact but these are obvious ones:
http://www.yg.yenicaggazetesi.com.tr/habergoster.php?haber=80731 it says that Public Bidding Law (Kamu İhale Yasası) has been changed countless times by AKP and "exceptions" were added at the times they needed.
-When TMSF http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_Deposit_Insurance_Fund_of_Turkey confiscated media channels like Sabah and ATV, they were sold in a bidding to Çalık Grubu. Erdoğan is the Father-in-law of the CEO of Çalık Grubu. 
-It is known that many AKP representative founded corporations or if they had one already they got richer and made them holdings. One of the representatives owns an chicken and egg compony, I can't remember which one. Erdoğan's son's are ceo's of holdings http://haber.sol.org.tr/devlet-ve-siyaset/erdoganin-oglu-holdinglesiyor-haberi-72150 etc.
Please note that this informatin requires more solid sources and investigation. I am at work right now, so I can't find the time to surf on net about it right now.

dwade32
dwade32

@resimji @dwade32 my name is just a madeup nickname. I am turkish and I have also lived for 5 years abroad, in the US and the UK so dont lecture me on western police intervention. I also witnessed the first day of the protest and the brutal raid on innocent protesters. The initial protesters did NOTHING, I watched everything from my apartment, they raided plain and simple. Do not lie. The later reaction by the protesters was purely self-defense and I think insufficient. I believe the protesters tranquility is causing more harm, given the indiscriminate nature of the police-brutality. Claiming that the police was not as violent before is meaningless, it does not prove they are not violent now and on the first day of the protest (its also a lie, I've lived, studied and worked near Taksim for years and I know members of the police force personally)

dos360
dos360

@ayse @dos360 @resimji @dwade32 Why is it that police use tear gas on them and not others? I am past forty and have participated in two protests in Taksim. I have never clashed with the police. I rather like them actually. There was even an occasion when Ocalan sympathisers made a protest in Taksim Square. Even they managed to assemble without turning Taksim Square into a battlefield and making headlines around the world. How low can one sink in public view?

ayse
ayse

@dos360 @resimji @dwade32 

May be because police used tear gas and high pressured water on peaceful protesters? You know basic instincts protect yourself. It is not only running away to protect yourself  from a bully you have to also fight back. Especially if there is no authority you can trust and complain about it.

ayse
ayse

@resimji @dwade32

Why are you lying about bans? We heard the context in Ankara subway: "Do not kiss ...". In European country you can heard this announcement. Turkey is a conservative country unlike Switzerland. Nobody take off their cloths or try to kiss strangers in public space. It is a simple kiss. You don't want to watch two people kiss. I understand that just look other way. I do that it works trust me even in New York subway.  About the alcohol ban, lets remember the ban first. People are not allowed to buy alcohol after 10pm from supermarkets. Lets remember what our PM said here too "Anyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic". I don't even like drinking but I am an adult so I have my right to purchase it if I want  to and whenever I want. If he really cares about health of the youth why there are so much poison on our vegetables in Turkey. No ban and no control on that but let me guess that is just a poison not a sin, isn't it. Whenever you see an international forum, you start lying. Please tell the truth you don't care about health of anyone what you care is bringing more Islamic life to Turkey by force. Why are you trying to hide your true color from foreigners?

dos360
dos360

@resimji @dwade32 
The problem is with the protestors. They believe that violence and rebellion are glorious. Picking a fight with the authorities is a cornerstone of leftist idea of progress. I know from recent personal experience that it is possible to protest against a new law in Taksim Square without clashing with the riot police there. Do you remember the animal rights protestors? Why is it that the friends of animals can lodge their protest peacefully while the friends of the humanism must turn Taksim into the Paris commune?