Protests against Erdogan spread from Taksim Square across Turkey

A group of Turkish protesters tried to end several days of violence around the country Wednesday by presenting Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government with a list of demands, the Associated Press reported. The chaos, which has spread to Ankara and Izmir, began Friday after authorities forcefully dispersed demonstrators trying to protect Taksim Square, a park in Istanbul, from development:

Barbaros Yesim has written his blood type, A-positive, on his right forearm.

On Tuesday in Taksim Square, where protests against the government raged for a fifth day, the 22-year-old demonstrator said the scribble in blue ink was a precaution against more police violence in clashes that have resulted in two deaths and more than 1,500 injuries since Friday . . .

“This is a scream for attention on the part of millions of people who feel they are being ignored,” said Bulent Aliriza, a Turkey specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who lives in Washington and Ankara, the Turkish capital. “It’s an accumulation of resentments about the increasingly authoritarian style of Erdogan.”

Justin Vela and Kevin Sullivan

The Washington Post’s editorial board also objected to Erdogan’s style of government:

In a democracy, peaceful dissent not only is accepted but also often compels changes in government policy. Turkey’s protesters began with a local but legitimate grievance, a government decision to eliminate a park adjacent to Taksim Square. Rather than tolerate them, the government dispatched riot police, which in turn caused the demonstrations to spread and to raise broader issues . . .

As Mr. Erdogan sees it, the fact that a majority of Turkish voters supports him entitles him to push through his agenda in spite of legal niceties and to tear-gas, imprison or otherwise intimidate those who object. Disturbingly, this “majoritarian” view of politics also has been embraced by the democratically elected Islamist government of Egypt. The result in both countries has been a dangerous polarization between religious and secular forces that threatens to destabilize longtime U.S. allies.

For images from the protests, read this interview with Turkish photojournalist Emine Gozde Sevim at WorldViews.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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