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‘Democratic and Islamic values clash in Turkey’

Published time: June 03, 2013 13:34
Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in central Ankara on June 1, 2013 (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

The Turkish protests won’t turn into civil war, but it’s a serious warning to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against further Islamization of the state, Dr. Huseyin Bagci from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara told RT.

A wave of violence in Turkey has seen riot police clash with protesters for a fourth day running in different parts of the country.

Security forces used tear gas and water cannons as the demonstrators responded with stones and built barricades.

In the capital, Ankara, the activists also tried to break through police lines and attack the prime minister's office.

Bagci believes the scale of protests became a real shock for Erdogan, who previously considered his policies to be flawless and supported by the Turkish population.

RT: After four days of unrest and a show of force by police can you simplify people’s frustration and tell us what exactly is driving them?


Huseyin Bagci: It’s like an eruption of a volcano concerning the policies of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in the recent years and in the recent months that he has been mostly involving in the private affairs of the citizens. And his way of speaking, his way of doing things has been also considered to leave the democratic values, to leave the republican values of the country. And I think this is first time in the last 11 years that the Turkish government has experienced such a strong public reaction.

The protestors are coming from different parts of the society. They have only one aim: to remind the government that in democracy the politicians can’t do things, taking the people against them.

RT: The Turkish PM has blamed the opposition for inciting crowds, whom he dismissed as “a few looters and thugs.” Could Taksim Square become Erdogan’s Tahrir Square, the center of Cairo's Arab Spring?

HB: I don’t think so. First of all, in Turkey there’s no domestic war or civil war conditions at the moment. The reaction to the government is very strong. This is right. But Turkey is still a parliamentary democracy and Tayyip Erdogan is getting his lessons from all these developments. The problem is, Tayyip Erdogan is criticized [for the] first time so strongly that he’s also shocked, as he was assuming that his policies are always right and what he’s doing is good for the country. But the people are unhappy with his policies in recent years and recent months.

RT: The prime minister did try to smooth the waters by admitting police had reacted excessively. And yet they don't appear to be backing off ... Empty words from Erdogan?

HB: [The] police and [the] prime minister’s sayings and doings contradict each other. I think it’s the first time the government has been facing such large public protests and demonstrations. So not only in Istanbul, in even smaller cities, towns, the people are on the streets and they called that the government should resign. I think that Turkey is a democratic society and Tayyip Erdogan is trying to get Turkey into [a] much more Islamism structure - Islamist state is experiencing these strong reactions. I think the values of democracy and the Islamist values are clashing now.

RT: How far does this protest in Turkey have the potential to go?

HB: It will not be civil war, but it’ll make the life [of the] prime minister very difficult in the coming weeks and days.