Taksim, an otherwise major attraction point for many foreign visitors, has been hit with protests for the last couple of weeks. A tiny sit-in in a tiny park at the heart of Istanbul morphed into a sizeable but amorphous protest movement against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its leader PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Since then, the protest movement has attracted big, and in some cases disproportional, attention from many at home and abroad.
Taksim’s ‘phase 2’
The main body of the protests were hijacked by previously dormant undemocratic groups and turned into a revenge fight against the government. Rejectionism and vandalism followed suit.Ufuk Ulutaş
Phase 2 is characterized by culmination of anti-government sentiments run by various motivations. From this moment on, while the protest movement began to diverge politically and socially, it also became vulnerable to political manipulation and outside interference. A tiny group of environmentalists were joined by groups with differing agendas: those who are angry at the first intervention of the police; the social base of the main opposition party CHP seeing this as an opportunity for shaking the AK Party rule, those without a strong party affiliation and some business conglomerates who wanted to settle personal or group accounts with a decade long AK Party rule, as well as marginal and predominantly radical leftist groups and terrorist organizations.