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Turkey: Where Will the Protest Movement Go?

A rally against the destruction of a park in central Istanbul quickly grew into nationwide anti-government protests. (Photo: Jonathan Lewis)

The mass protests that have swept Turkey in recent days seem to have a quicksand quality for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: the more he moves to quash dissenting views, the more entangled he appears to be getting.

Trouble began on May 31 and was initially a response to a city government attempt to demolish Gezi Park, one of the last green spaces in the center of Istanbul, near Taksim Square. When police employed strong-arm tactics – including the widespread use of tear gas and water cannons – against the park activists, the protest quickly adopted an anti-government tone. The first confirmed protest-related death occurred June 3, when a taxi plowed into a crowd of demonstrators on a downtown thoroughfare.

Sympathy protests have hit some 66 other towns and cities, ranging from secular, Western-looking towns on the Aegean Sea coast to more conservative, religious cities in the predominantly Kurdish southeast.

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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.

Turkey: Where Will the Protest Movement Go?

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