I've always been fascinated by Turkey. A country with a rich history steeped in a magnificent culture. I think it was the transformation from being the center of all the religious wars in the world to a secular country. Sadly, in 2013, that has now changed.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been moving the country into a more religiously conservative direction since the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power more than a decade ago. What began on May 28th as a simple "occupy" protest against the closing of Gezi Park (a highly symbolic and historic park in Istanbul) has now mushroomed into large protests against current Turkish leaders all over the county with thousands injured due to police overreaction.
Gezi stands as a monument to modernity in Turkey and the plan to demolish it was angered the secularists in the country and is seen as a move backwards. Indeed, the government plans to build an Ottoman style barracks and mosque on the site so it's understandable that the people are upset. Like the Egyptians protesting in Cairo, these young Turks are young, secular-minded women students to football fans, from the urban middle class to "the typical urban poor youth", according to the BBC's Paul Mason, who has been reporting from Istanbul.
I find it very heartening that the people in Turkey and Egypt are not putting up with any sort of shift to religious conservatism. They want democracy, liberty and freedom and they are getting it, interestingly, with the help of social media. Prime Minister Erdogan has been attempting to shut down Twitter feeds, calling them "a scourge." He, like many other leaders trying exert more control on their people, are stymied by American technology. Love it!
BBC has a nice Q & A on the situation in Turkey. Check it out!