Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taksim Square is not Tahrir Square

 By Ali Murat Yel and Alparslan Nas

The main actors in Turkey's ongoing protests are motivated by reactionary ideology, not environmental concerns.

Al Jazeera - 12 Jun 2013 

The unrest in Istanbul's Taksim Square and Gezi Park has been underway for almost two weeks now. Initially an environmentalist protest against the Istanbul municipality’s Taksim Project, which would have removed some trees from the corner of Gezi Park, the reaction has spread to various other cities around the country and turned into organised unrest against the AK Party's government, which has been in power since 2002.

A decisive factor in the spreading unrest was the police’s excessive use of pepper spray and tear gas to evacuate the Gezi Park protesters on May 31, behaviour that government officials have acknowledged and harshly criticised.

The Taksim Project was announced by the AK Party during the 2011 elections. In addition to expanding pedestrian roads and re-building an old military barracks, the project would also, contrary to popular belief, not decrease but increase the amount of green area in Taksim. Automobile traffic would be diverted underground and the entire Taksim Square, one of the largest squares in Istanbul, would be reserved for pedestrians only. 

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