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Istanbul in Revolt: Police and Protestors Clash

The crowd was massive and consisted of different political ideologies. It also happened suddenly. All at once.

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On May 31, police in Istanbul attacked a group of peaceful protestors in Taksim Square. The Turkish state controlled media said only a few people were injured. However, protestors said that at least three people, if not more, are dead. Sean David Hobbs, a journalist who lives in Istanbul, recorded the scene.

Yesterday morning at 1 pm, college kids from Bogazici University (Turkey’s equivalent of the University of California Berkeley) got angry. They learned that at least three peaceful protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park had been killed on May 31st by Turkish police. A spontaneous protest march began from Bogazici Campus. Within an hour a few hundred students had turned into over 5,000 residents.

The crowd’s goal was to march to heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square, where protesters had lost their lives the day before. But the police were waiting.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AK Parti tried to spin to the world media that this morning’s protesters were just a bunch of drunk college kids looking to impress their boyfriends or girlfriends during Finals time. Erdogan even boasted that if protestors could bring 100,000 people to Taksim Square he could bring 1,000,000.

But the fact is that nothing like this has ever happened in Turkey since perhaps the 1970s. Maybe not even then.

The crowd was massive and consisted of different political ideologies. It also happened suddenly. All at once. Young and old were arm and arm against the neo-liberal policies of Erdogan’s led government. While there were many young people involved in the fighting with the police, there were also a large number of middle aged and older Istanbulites in attendance.

The fact that Turks are protesting ought to make government leaders such as Obama and Egypt’s Morsi shiver. The “Turkish model,” as it is euphemistically called in the Middle East, is supposed to be working. The AK Parti appealed to the Turkish public through a combination of Islamism and privatizing capitalism. Capitalism loved Erdogan because he was giving the world a brand of “Protestant Ethic” Islamism; i.e. money making Muslims. Who could ask for anything more? And what’s the result?

Mass numbers of Turkish citizens on the streets fighting with the police.

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