Clashes between the police and protestors erupted in Turkey on Saturday, despite the police in Istanbul refraining from confronting protestors over the weekend.
“To those who are giving us lessons, what do they have to say about the events of Wall Street? You know they used tear gas and there were a lot of wounded and 17 dead there! Similar protests have taken place in Britain, France, Germany and bigger ones in Greece. All of them are members of the European Union,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a press conference on Friday.
Despite the prime minister’s remarks, tens of thousands protestors continue to take to the streets across Turkey placing pressure on Erdogan's Islamic-rooted conservative government.
Taksim square is packed with students, along with football fans, NGOs as well as members of extremist leftist organizations, Kurds and Alawites.
Senan Olgan, a Carnegie academic, told Al Arabiya the protestor’s demands are unrealistic. However, he adds that a radical change in the government's performance is a must.
“There are certainly calls for his resignation. It is different from what we have seen in Tahrir (Square). This is not really about the legitimacy of the government. Nobody questions the legitimacy of the Turkish government. Turkey has a government that has been democratically elected. The Prime Minister Erdogan still has a lot of support among many Turks. So, it's really more about his leadership style. Then anything else.”
Critics accuse Erdogan, in power since 2002, of forcing conservative Islamic values on Turkey, a mainly Muslim but staunchly secular nation, and of pushing big urban development projects at the expense of local residents, AFP reported.
However, AKP has won three consecutive elections and has brought Turkey strong economic growth with a gross income exceeding 5 percent annually since 2002.
“The demand is for a more inclusive style of government. They (protestors) want Erdogan to listen and stop behaving as if, just because he has the arithmetic majority of the parliament, he can dictate everything on Turkish society,” Olgan said.
Protestors ignore Erdogan’s call to end protests