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In Turkey, Protesters Say Prime Minister Has Gone Too Far

The scene at one of the protests in Istanbul early Monday.
Ahmet Sik
The scene at one of the protests in Istanbul early Monday.

After more violence overnight, protesters and police clashed again in Istanbul on Monday. As the BBC writes:

"Police used tear gas to stop a group of demonstrators marching on the prime minister's office in Istanbul, the private Dogan news agency reports."

The protests began Friday and have spread to Ankara and other cities. More than 1,000 people have been injured. NPR's Peter Kenyon, who is in Istanbul, explained on Morning Edition that the unrest began with a demonstration four days ago over the demolition of a park. Since then, opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appear to have taken over the demonstrations.

From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul

Now, Peter says, the protests are drawing support from Turks who are upset with Edrogan's "my-way-or-the-highway governing style" and the government's attempt to impose conservative views on those who wish to continue living in one of the Muslim world's more secular societies.

The protesters, Peter says, want to send Erdogan a message "that he's gone too far."

For his part, Erdogan says that "those who make news [and] call these events the Turkish Spring do not know Turkey." He says his opponents have "provoked my innocent citizens."

The BBC's Paul Mason says the protests may fit somewhere between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring:

"Is this the Turkish Tahrir? Not unless the workers join in: Turkey has a large labour movement, and a big urban poor, working population, and Monday is a work day, so we will see. It is certainly already something more than the Turkish version of Occupy."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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