“The Gulenists never fight in public,” Baransu said. “So even the smallest criticism should be regarded as important.”
‘He’s been so stubborn’
More widely, Erdogan’s former do-no-wrong profile among his supporters may have been tarnished by his response to the protest movement.
“I don’t know if he is tired. He’s been so stubborn about this park,” said Turgut Yancin, 55, a retired mover who was sipping tea Friday at a shop in a crowded alleyway in Kasimpasa, Erdogan’s home neighborhood in Istanbul and a stronghold of his support. Yancin said that he respected Erdogan for his efforts to rid the country of the influence of the military, which intervened through coups four times between 1960 and 1997 but now appears sidelined.
Another supporter said he was cautious about the current protest situation.
Erdogan “has done good things for this country. Roads, economic development, many things. The country was in debt to the IMF. Now it isn’t,” said Yesar Ozdemir, 50, who runs a home construction business. But “he was better in the past. Lately his aggressive comments have changed things a bit.”
Erdogan was waiting Friday for a response to his concessions from the protesters. Earlier in the day, in a speech to party members in Ankara, he addressed the demonstration in Istanbul.
“You have done enough sitting around in the park,” he said. “Don’t let us be forced into reverting to different measures.”
But inside Gezi Park, many people said their aims had long moved beyond whether the barracks would be built.
“We are not here just for trees,” said Didem Canturoglu, 25, a musician. “We are here for lots of reasons. So the meeting wasn’t very helpful.”