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Protests not deadly for Turkey's Erdogan, but a lesson to learn

By Shi Zhuying (Xinhua)

08:13, June 05, 2013

ISTANBUL, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The nationwide protests in Turkey have triggered concerns over their possible impact on the country' s politics. But local analysts do not believe the outcomes would be fatal to the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The protests erupted a week ago after police violently broke up a peaceful sit-in against the demolition of Gezi Park close to Istanbul's Taksim Square. Riot police fired tear gas and water canon to the disperse the protesters, leaving two dead and scores wounded.

The excessive use of force by the police and Erdogan's tough remarks have sparked public anger and turned small-scale protest into nationwide anti-government demonstrations. Some protesters called on the government to resign, and even slammed Erdogan as " fascist."


Gokhan Bacik, professor of political science at Turkey's Zirve University, said the current situation is very sensitive and critical that demands full attention from the government.

"I cannot predict how these protests will develop. It depends on Turkish government's attitude. Our government should be very careful at this moment and assume the right position as soon as possible to ease the anger of protesters," he said.

"I think the government has already stepped back from Taksim project and Istanbul court suspended the construction project in Gezi Park," said Bacik.

"There would be no further development of the protests since the original goal of protesters who want to preserve the Gezi Park has been fulfilled. They have already got what they want," political analyst Abdullah Bozkurt said.

The Turkish government has softened its stance toward protesters. On Tuesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologized to the protesters for the excessive force used by the police, and he is expected to meet with some of the protesters on Wednesday.

He further said the government would inform the public in detail before every planned legislation, including plans related to Taksim square, and would listen to people's opinions.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul praised the peaceful protesters, saying their message had been received.


Even though what had happened in some nearby Arab countries in past years lingers in their minds, analysts in Turkey do not see the potential of a "Turkish Spring."

"The Arab states' experienced revolutions were suffered from authoritarian regime and economic poverty which Turkey has none. So it is impossible for a 'Turkish Spring' to happen," Bacik said.

Meanwhile, according to Bozkurt, the majority of the Turkish people still support the government.

"They don't ask for the government to resign, neither do they want a chaotic revolution in sacrifice of social stability and economic growth."

"Look at the riots happening in Turkey's neighboring countries like Syria and Iraq, and look at the economic crisis-torn Europe, the Turkish public are satisfied with the current government's efforts to maintain Turkey's stability and economic development," Bozkurt said.

Another political analyst, Didem Akyel Collinsworth, said these kinds of protests are common in Western countries.

"Even that people shout slogans demanding the government to resign, it is just their way to express the anger. The majority are not expecting the government to step down. Besides, Erdogan's government still enjoys more than 50 percent (of) public votes," Akyel said.


Bozkurt further pointed out that the majority of the public quickly shunned away from the protests as they turned violent with vandalism. He said that some marginal groups and extremists had mixed into the protesters and it was these groups that carried out destruction and riots.

However, Bacik said the government should never underestimate such protests.

"Discounting some marginal groups in the crowds, the protesters were ordinary people. Some Erdogan's former supporters from conservative Muslims also expressed their dissatisfaction with government in this event. This may even end up with new coalitions of people with different ideological (religious and secular) backgrounds," Bacik told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Akyel said "Erdogan has to listen to the voice of people and makes his government more inclusive."

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