Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • French teenage girls held over Syria jihad plans

    Read more

  • Israel pounds Gaza but phones targets with warnings

    Read more

  • Bombs across Iraq kill dozens as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

    Read more

  • Iceland issues aviation alert on volcano activity

    Read more

  • France will not be 'be pushed around' by Germany

    Read more

  • Libya withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations host

    Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • US job market yet to recover from recession, says Fed Chair

    Read more

Europe

Barricades bolster Turkey's Taksim Square protests

© Mehdi Chebil

Text by Mehdi Chebil

Latest update : 2013-06-10

A record number of protesters gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square over the weekend, suggesting that anti-government demonstrators have no intention of backing down despite increasingly intolerant rhetoric from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Will Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have the patience to wait for the anti-government uprising that has swept Istanbul’s Taksim Square to run out of steam?

That question is hot on the lips of several participants in the mass protests that saw record numbers of Turks swarming the emblematic gathering place at the centre of the country’s largest city over the weekend.

Turkey’s Islamic-rooted, conservative government responded on Sunday by calling on supporters to attend two demonstrations, in the capital city of Ankara on June 15 and in Istanbul on June 16.

But Erdogan’s warnings about the “limits” of the government’s patience went largely unheeded by the tens of thousands who showed up this past weekend to voice their anger at the government.

And, according to them, Erdogan’s statement only makes a peaceful resolution to the stand-off increasingly unlikely.

“The protesters here know that they’re a minority in Turkish society, and I’m scared that Erdogan’s supporters will come here and attack those camped out in Gezi Park [an area inside Taksim Square, the demolition of which was one of the initial motivations behind the protests],” said Melike, a 23-year-old nurse who has been helping treat those injured in clashes with police.

Despite that fear, Melike strolled down Avenue Istiqlal, a pedestrian street leading to a Taksim Square, beer in hand. Though she views Erdogan as an impetuous and unpredictable leader, she also says that police raids would be dangerous for the government’s image.

Protests protected by barricades

Taksim Square is surrounded by makeshift barricades meant to slow police raids and allow protesters to gather in force on the front lines.

“We can bring 250 people to the front very quickly,” explained Serif, a member of a small group of activists wearing helmets and gas masks.

With a red hood offsetting his steel-blue eyes, Serif calls himself a “patriot” and says he is ready to fight to the finish to prevent what he sees as rampant Islamisation of his country.

Still, he has no illusions.

“By taking us by surprise and throwing tear gas grenades from helicopters, the police could without a doubt gain the upper hand,” he said. “I’m sure that 80% of the people occupying Gezi Park would take off as soon as they started getting hit by tear gas.”

But a police raid would not be easy. Riot police stationed near Erdogan’s office, along the Bosphorus River, would have to get through 13 successive barricades arranged over a half-kilometre on an uphill slope.

A De Gaulle or a Putin?

These barricades, reinforced day after day, have become a crucial visual symbol in the publicity and media stand-off between the protesters and the Turkish government, according to Esat Sabay, a thirty-year-old businessman who describes himself as a “concerned citizen”.

Sabay says he has come to see with his own eyes the demonstrations that have been able to proceed within an area blocked off from all police presence – a first in several centuries of Turkish and Ottoman history.

“The outcome of this movement does not just depend on holding on to Taksim,” Sabay told FRANCE 24. “The protesters also need to project a positive image of what they’re doing. It’s a bit like in the film ‘Gladiator’; ‘Win the people, and you’ll win your freedom’.”

Following a group of young protesters wearing Anonymous masks, Sabay scrambled over a barricade. “If the protesters hang on, it will be up to Erdogan to decide if he wants to go down in history as a De Gaulle or a Putin,” he concluded.


 

Date created : 2013-06-10

  • TURKEY

    Clashes rock Turkish capital as protesters defy Erdogan

    Read more

  • TURKEY

    Turkish PM toughens stance against protests

    Read more

  • HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

    Turkish hackers to take blame for pro-protest tweets

    Read more

COMMENT(S)