By Jonathon Burch
Reuters - June 21, 2013
KONYA, Turkey (Reuters) - "This Nation Is With You" declares a small
billboard in the center of this conservative central Turkish city, the
words emblazoned on an image of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and a sea
of his flag-waving supporters.
Cosmopolitan Istanbul or the avenues of the capital Ankara, rattled
by weeks of anti-government protest, seem a world away from Konya, an
industrial city in Turkey's pious Anatolian heartland, where support for
the premier appears resolute.
The wave of riots has highlighted an underlying tension in Turkish
society between a modern, secular middle-class, many living in Istanbul
or on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and a more conservative,
religious population that forms the bedrock of support for Erdogan's
Islamist-rooted AK Party.
Konya, a city of 1.1 million with a dynamic economy steeped in Islamic tradition, epitomizes Erdogan's reformist vision.
Few restaurants serve alcohol, the Islamic headscarf is more in
evidence than in the main cities, and tourists are drawn to the tomb of
Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic, rather than to any wild nightlife.
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