Rubin: Massive Demonstrations Shake Turkey

More than 1000 people have been injured in several days of protests in Istanbul and 11 other cities against Turkey’s Islamist regime. The number of dead is not clear. There have been more than 90 demonstrations, making these the biggest anti-Islamist protests in a decade. Hundreds more were hurt in conflicts with police in Ankara, the capital. The demonstrations began as an environmental protest about the destruction of a famous Istanbul park but had spread to Ankara, too.

The movement began in Taksim Square, Istanbul’s most famous. The police responded toughly using tear gas and pepper spray. Some compared this to the Arab Spring demonstrations elsewhere in the Middle East, though this idea seems exaggerated.

Gradually the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been working to transform Turkey into something much closer to an Islamist state. Hundreds of political prisoners have been jailed on trumped-up charges of planned coups; the army has been forced to submit; a new constitution is being developed; and the independent judiciary is under assault by the government.

Much of the mass media has been bought up or intimidated. One must also take into account educational system changes, the declining status of women, and rising efforts to reduce the sale of alcohol. Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country in the world.

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