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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Ten Things on Gezi Park: Did You Know...?

Turkish producer organised letter to Erdogan published in British newspaper
Turkish producer Fuad Kavur behind letter to Turkish PM Erdoğan/August 2013

  1. The momentous Gezi Park protests are said to have sold political authorities on the idea that all Turkish citizens are an integral part of society with a voice. So much so, that after the nationwide movement against the redevelopment of Taksim Gezi Park, the mayor of Istanbul now plans to build a huge park in the city similar to Central Park in New York.
  2. The Gezi protests have broken homophobic taboos in Turkey, according to an activist from the community.
  3. Some fringe groups have continued their attempts to occupy Gezi, with police forces once again blocking entry to the park on 28 July. Some Taksim shop owners have been against the protests - even attacking protesters - but others have supported them fully.
  4. Turkish columnist Mustafa Akyol believes the protests have highlighted great divisions in Turkish society, blaming it on the low level of trust people in Turkey have for one another. But the Gezi movement has also built up trust between different groups. In a first for Turkey, neighbourhood residents now gather together in the evenings to discuss issues, reminiscent of the agoras of ancient Greek democracy.
  5. Some commentators believe the harsh reaction of the government towards the Gezi Park protests highlights the "Israelization" of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's party, because of their transition from "victim to aggressor".
  6. Prime Minister Erdoğan has threatened legal action against a UK newspaper for publishing an open letter on 24 July, financed by a Turkish producer, criticising his handling of recent protests. Erdoğan expressed regret that "so-called celebrities who could not even point to Turkey on a map" had signed the letter, while his EU Minister described the open letter undersigned by Hollywood celebrities on the Gezi unrest as a "hate crime". He wrote a letter in response saying it was the opportunities provided by their political party that had "allowed a vibrant civil society to flourish".
  7. Support has come outside of the Erdoğan camp against the letter from the UK. Head of British non-governmental organisation Forward Thinking, Oliver Mcternan, criticised the national paper for selling its space to an overtly biased letter. "To describe Mr Erdoğan, who won over 50% of the vote in the last election, as a dictator, and to compare the huge pro-government rallies organised by his AK Party in support of their prime minister to the rallies organised by the Nazi party, is not just tasteless, but also calls into question the judgment and motives of the signatories," he said.
  8. Meanwhile others argue that the Gezi Park protests are not being viewed in a comparative perspective with other countries around the world.
  9. A large majority in Turkey are distrustful of the international support shown for the protests, as they believe foreign backing is not against an undemocratic system, just over who controls the system, even if they have been democratically elected - as evidenced by America's treatment of the current Egyptian crisis.
  10. As Islamophobia continues to grow across Europe, leader of the English Defence League - a far-right street protest movement - has expressed his support for the Taksim Gezi Park protests for "resisting against Islam".

Read more about the Gezi Park protests >>

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