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Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasts protesters
Question of the Day
Erdogan once again belittled the protesters, calling them “capulcu,” the Turkish word for vandals.
“If you look in the dictionary, you will see how right a description this is,” he said. “Those who burn and destroy are called capulcu. Those who back them are of the same family.”
The protesters have turned Erdogan’s label of them as “capulcu” into a humorous retort, printing stickers with the word, scrawling it on their tents and uploading music videos onto social network sites.
“All they do is to break and destroy, to attack public buildings … They didn’t stop at that,” Erdogan said. “They attacked daughters who wear headscarves. They entered Dolmabahce mosque with their beer bottles and their shoes.”
Some of the injured in the initial clashes in Istanbul’s Besiktas area were treated in Dolmabahce mosque. The mosque’s imam has denied reports that people entered with beer. In the initial days of the protests, some women said they were harassed verbally. The majority of protesters, however, have denounced those who did it and have been welcoming toward them.
“He believes that it will make his support base more dynamic and gain from the crisis, not lose,” Zeyrek said on NTV television. “He is engaged in a race to show which side can garner more supporters.”
Zeyrek said Erdogan’s party had been bussing supporters to airports to greet the prime minister, “whereas the supporters at Kugulu Park (in Ankara) are there on their own initiatives. They went there despite the police batons and the tear gas.”
“He is engaged in a show of force at every stop he makes. This is causing more reaction and making the protesters more determined,” he said.
But Erdogan denied he was trying to raise tension or be divisive, and insisted the protests were a way of undermining a government that was elected with 50 percent of the vote just two years ago.
“Those unable to topple (the governing Justice and Development party) at the ballot box tried to cause turmoil in the country by reverting to this. But this ploy won’t work. We know their game. We have the stubbornness to overturn the game,” he said.
The protesters have been camping out in Istanbul’s Gezi Park for the past 10 days. The park’s redevelopment would replace the park with a replica Ottoman-era barracks, and tear down an old cultural center. Initial plans included a shopping mall, but they have now been ditched in favor a theater, opera house or museum, possibly with cafes.
Erdogan’s tone caused dismay among protesters in Ankara.
“As the prime minister continues (with) his harsh style, the resistance also continues and is getting bigger,” said Cagdas Ersoy, a 23-year-old student who joined the protests in Ankara's Kizilay square. “He is making the resistance bigger without realizing it.”
Protester Cihan Akburun said: “He should not provoke the people. We invite everyone to (have) common sense.”
By Michael P. Orsi
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