June 2, 2013
Hundreds of people have gathered in Brussels, Madrid and most major German cities in a show of solidarity with protestors in Turkey. Holding up anti-government banners and chanting “Resign,” the crowds called for Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan to step down from what many now see as his increasingly authoritarian rule.
One protestor in Brussels told euronews, “We would like to get rid of this government first and get more freedom, freedom of speech. And at the end of it all, we’d like a better government, perhaps with the ideas of Ataturk, which we’ve had in the past.”
Atatürk is regarded as the founder of modern Turkey and is widely revered across the country. His image can be seen everywhere.
Erdogan has transformed Turkey into Europe’s fastest-growing economy, but his Islamist-rooted stance and conservative policies such as recently introduced legislation to limit the sale and consumption of alcohol has recently put him on a collision course with many citizens.
Many have also complained that Turkish mass media – under the control of Erdogan’s party since 2002 – has been strangely mute about events over the last few days.
By contrast, Twitter, Facebook and other global sites have been humming with the news in Turkey.
But any talk of a ‘Turkish Spring’ seems – at least for the moment – premature. So far, only a small cross-section of society has been represented by the protestors, mainly upper-class youths from the secular “white Turk” social strata.
Notable by their absence are the disenfranchised and unemployed youths from poorer backgrounds, as well as the women which made up a good proportion of the 2011 uprising in Egypt.
Unless this element changes radically, it doesn’t appear that Turkey has reached a political tipping point just yet.