Prayers in the park

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

Mass protests against the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment are con­tin­u­ing as Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan re­turns from an over­seas trip.

There are many par­al­lels be­tween Tak­sim Square and Tahrir Square but this is no Turk­ish spring.

Tur­key has al­ready had its spring. The mil­i­tary has been pushed back, au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism re­placed with democ­racy and the econ­omy has grown for the past decade. So what's the prob­lem? The short an­swer is an ex­ces­sively heavy-handed po­lice re­sponse and "the grumpy un­cle", the term that many Turks use to de­scribe the acid-tongued Prime Min­is­ter, Tayep Er­do­gan

The eco­nomic his­tory of the Repub­lic of Tur­key has dis­tinct sec­tions which can be clas­si­fied be­tween World War I to end of World War II, post 1950, re­forms un­der Özal and early 1990s. How­ever one dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tic be­tween 1923–1985, in large part as a re­sult of gov­ern­ment poli­cies, a back­ward econ­omy de­vel­oped into a com­plex eco­nomic sys­tem pro­duc­ing a wide range of agri­cul­tural, in­dus­trial, and ser­vice prod­ucts for both do­mes­tic and ex­port mar­kets the econ­omy grew at an av­er­age an­nual rate of six per­cent.

Mr Er­do­gan has com­pleted a three-day tour of North Africa as demon­stra­tors turned out in Ankara and other cities, many call­ing for him to quit. The demon­stra­tions spread af­ter po­lice cracked down on protests over the re­de­vel­op­ment of an Is­tan­bul park.

Demon­stra­tors have been ral­ly­ing in Is­tan­bul, Ankara and other cities for a week, with many call­ing for the three-term prime min­is­ter to quit. The protests mush­roomed af­ter po­lice cracked down on ac­tivists de­fend­ing an Is­tan­bul park from de­vel­op­ers.

Mr Er­do­gan has called the protests un­demo­cratic but his deputy apol­o­gized for po­lice vi­o­lence and met rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the pro­test­ers from Is­tan­bul's Tak­sim Square.

It ap­pears to be the first clash be­tween ri­val groups since the un­rest be­gan.

Be­fore leav­ing for his tour of North Africa on Mon­day, Mr Er­do­gan had pre­dicted the protests would be over by the time he re­turned.

The deputy leader of Mr Er­do­gan's Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AKP), Huseyin Ce­lik, went on TV to urge sup­port­ers not to flock to the air­port to wel­come Mr Er­do­gan back.

"The prime min­is­ter does not need a show of power," he said.

Protest rep­re­sen­ta­tives who met Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Bu­lent Arinc on Wed­nes­day pre­sented de­mand which in­cluded the dis­missal of po­lice chiefs, a ban on the use of tear gas, the re­lease of de­tained pro­test­ers, the sack­ing of Is­tan­bul's gov­er­nor, and the scrap­ping of the plans for the re­de­vel­op­ment of Gezi Park.

The gov­ern­ment wants to pedes­tri­an­ize and ease traf­fic around Tak­sim Square; Ka­lyon Group, a com­pany which has close ties with the gov­ern­ment, has been con­tracted to carry out the project

The project also in­cludes build­ing a shop­ping cen­tre which PM Er­do­gan says would not be "a tra­di­tional mall", but rather would in­clude cul­tural cen­ters, an opera house and a mosque. The plan also in­cludes re­build­ing an Ot­toman-era mil­i­tary bar­racks near the site and de­mol­ish­ing the his­toric Ataturk Cul­tural Cen­tre

Some see this as hav­ing his­toric sym­bol­ism, as the bar­racks were the cra­dle of a pro-Is­lamic, pro-Ot­toman mutiny.

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