This past week In Istanbul, Turkey, demonstrators rallied against police in protest to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s infrastructure plans. The protests started off as a friendly demonstration to oppose a government plan to build a mosque and a shopping center in a historic Istanbul square surrounded by outdoor bars and restaurants, but it quickly soured when police tried to forcefully end the demonstrations. Many Turks say their government is becoming increasingly strict and is increasingly pushing their religious motives upon minorities while ignoring their perspectives.
Erdogan, who has been in power now for a decade, has been described by protesters as a dictator-like leader who has grown less tolerant of citizen opposition to him. The Prime Minister has disregarded the anti-government protests, labeling them as the work of opposition thugs.
Social media has exploded with posts and photos about the protests, particularly of a young woman named Ceyda Sungur. Ceyda, who is an academic at Istanbul’s Technical University, was sprayed with teargas by riot police in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on May 28 while wearing a red dress. She has since been dubbed the “Woman in Red” and has become a global symbol of female revolt and an icon of the Turkish protests. Her image has popped up on newspapers, social media websites, and cartoon illustrations on posters and stickers worldwide.
Have you seen the news about Turkey in your social feeds? What do you think about the protests there? Do you think they’re reflective of other uprisings related to the Arab Spring or is Turkey too far removed from what’s happened in the middle east over the past two years?
I don’t think the Turkish protests have anything to do with the Arab Spring. They are local and are protests against Erdogan’s single minded attempts to Islamise Turkey against the desire of some Turks.