A Zone of Freedom: Youth Insurgency Challenges Erdogan, Part 1

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Daniel Steinvorth in Istanbul, June 11, 2013 (16 Photos in the Gallery: Police Move to Clear Taksim Square):

(first my question: are the turkish elites and institutions solide and wise enough to solve this problem BEFORE all this becomes a second Syria? – as obviously none of the two parties will give up, and later alien muslim fighters will ‘help’ for Erdogan’s ‘Muslim’ state?? Syria worldwide?).

Turkish youth have had enough of Islamic conservatism and are rebelling against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, their authoritarian father figure of a prime minister. They want to decide for themselves how they should live their lives … //

… Uncertain Outcome: … //

… US and Europe Urge Restraint:

It is already clear that the conflict has not improved Erdogan’s standing in the West. Ankara has apparently ignored several calls from the United States and the European Union. Both US Secretary of State John Kerry and his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, had urged the Turkish government to exercise restraint.

The furious Turkish leader has refused to back down. On the contrary, it seems that all the criticism against him just further incites the prime minister to threaten the protesters. And then, of course, there are Erdogan’s large numbers of supporters, who constitute a majority. In the religiously conservative neighborhoods of Istanbul and other cities, on the Black Sea and in faraway Anatolia, they worship Erdogan, the son of a sailor, who has risen to become the most powerful politician since Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.

One of those supporters, 30-year-old engineer Giyaseddin Gergin, works in a modern office on the shores of the Golden Horn. A portrait of Atatürk and one of Erdogan, Gergin’s great role model, hang on the wall. The office is part of the headquarters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), where Gergin serves as head of the party’s youth wing in Istanbul. With his impeccable manners and neatly pressed shirt, he answers questions about the current situation. In fact, he says, he is delighted to respond to our questions, because he finds the reporting on the situation in Turkey, especially in the Western media, to be one-sided and misleading.

“Of course the police made mistakes,” says Gergin. “But does that justify the vandalism being committed by the protesters? And don’t other countries have police violence? No one would hit upon the idea of calling it an American Spring when there are protests in the United States. But here they’re talking about a Turkish Spring.”

Superficially, the term seemd to fit — after all, similar to the Arab Spring, well-educated citizens adept at using social media also took to the streets in Turkey. But the country is no dictatorship like Libya under Gadhafi, and its economy is booming.

A Challenge to the Prime Minister:

When asked what else might have incited the Turkish protesters, Gergin responds, “We are dealing with three groups: environmentalists, who are defending the trees, extremists, who want to cause turmoil and, finally, those who have been losing one election after the next for years, and who now finally see an opportunity to call attention to themselves — the Kemalists.”

Gergin’s boss makes the same claims. According to Erdogan, a radical minority is provoking the protests, and terrorists, possibly even those responsible for the attack on the US Embassy in Ankara a few months ago, are also involved. And, he adds, the “old elite” of Kemalists and their Republican People’s Party (CHP) are trying to exploit the unstable situation.

Erdogan ignores the fact that many of his critics are just as opposed to the CHP as the AKP. According to a survey conducted by Istanbul’s Bilgi University, 85 percent of the protesters are not affiliated with any party.

A new, non-parliamentary and unorganized opposition has in fact taken shape, one that is difficult to control and even more difficult to pigeonhole into old friend-versus-foe schemata. It presents a new challenge to the prime minister.
Like Erdogan, Gergin also refuses to allow that the demonstrators could have justified concerns. “It just happens that we are not a coalition government, which means that we can govern on our own. We have the democratic right to pursue policies that the majority of the people want.”

It’s the sort of argument used by those who see democracy as a vehicle to govern as they see fit. Why even bother with dissidents if this only slows down the decision-making process?
(full text).

Part 2: Government’s List of Sins Is Long.

Links:

Police Storm Istanbul’s Taksim Square, on Axis of Logic, by Mike Giglio, TheDailyBeast.com, June 11, 2013: Riot police surged past barricades, filling the air with tear gas, and ending the relative calm of Turkey’s Occupy movement. What happened to peace? …;

Video about Istanbul warzone: Thousands of protesters try to reclaim Taksim Square, 1.18 min, on Russia Today RT, June 11, 2013 (see also links to related articles);

Video: Turkish police storm Taksim Square, 3.21 min, uploaded by AlJazeeraEnglish, June 10, 2013;

Turkish Police Raid Gezi Park, Fail to Evict Protesters: a collection of 8 Photos by Jenna Pope on The Real News Nettwork TRNN.

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