A court ruled Thursday, that Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, cannot be destroyed. The redevelopment planned by the Erdogan administration, to turn the area into a tribute to the Ottoman Empire, will not happen. Gezi Park will stand, and one of the last ‘green’ spaces in Istanbul will remain green.
In May, Gezi park became the focal point for a protest against the government’s plans. It began as a ‘sit-in,’ and quickly grew to a full protest against Prime Minister Erdogan, and his move towards autocracy. When the protests eventually ended, towards the latter part of June, four people had died, and more than 7,500 were injured.
On June 14th, Erdogan said he would wait for a court ruling before continuing with his plans.
Erdogan blamed the escalation of the protest on ‘outside sources.’ Interviews of the participants revealed that everyday citizens, from housewives to attorneys, were camping out in the park, and displaying their outrage. The anti-government protests included Muslims, Catholics, and Kurds. Turkish freedom was at stake.
Erdogan, as did Morsi, was beginning to lead Turkey towards an Islamic only country. He forbad the consumption of alcohol, displays of public affection, and required the schools to teach Islamic doctrine.
The battle may not be over. Ergogan has remained defiant, claiming the influence of ‘foreigners.’ He called the protestors ‘houligans,’ and ‘thugs.’ He never acknowledged the rights of the people, instead using water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets in attempts to disperse the crowd.
When asked today about the events in Egypt, he said: “It was the wrong thing to do.”
According to sources inside Turkey, Erdogan is on ‘thin ice.’ Would Turkey’s army follow the lead of their brothers in Egypt? Leaders of every nation in the world should be asking that question.
For now, at least, Gezi Park, one of the few green spots in Istanbul, will remain untouched.
Alfred James reporting