Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tiananmen at Taksim

Well, not quite in terms of blood, but it's the principle that counts:
Turkey has ‘no more tolerance’ for violent protest, Prime Minister Erdogan told the parliament. He was speaking as police used water cannons and tear gas to take over Taksim Square in Istanbul from anti-government activists.
Erdogan lashed out at the protesters as he was addressing MPs on Tuesday. In his speech he separated the peaceful protesters concerned with the development plans at Gezi Park from those in Taksim Square, who he said are responsible for violent clashes with police forces.
The prime minister blamed the Taksim protesters of injuring security troops, damaging public property, disturbing public order and damaging Turkey’s image among international investors.
Erdogan’s speech came hours after hundreds of police walked into Taksim Square just after dawn and used tear gas and water cannons to fend of protesters attempting to enter it. Police removed protest banners from buildings overlooking the square. The prime minister hailed the move, which he described as tearing down “rags”.
Clashes erupted in the streets surrounding Taksim Square, while the police took over part of the square by marching in large formation and then driving out the remaining protesters by rounds of tear gas.
Some people threw Molotov cocktails, and one of the riot police cars was set on fire. Those protesting in Gezi Park have distanced themselves from the attackers in Twitter posts, some calling them “agents provocateurs,” who play along the official depiction of the protesters as marauders and extremists.
The use of Molotov cocktails here must be balanced against the violence that had (allegedly) already been perpetrated by the Turkish police. And claims that the protesters have been violent would seem to be open to question given that so many of those arrested by Turkish police have been the violent thugs known as lawyers.

The stakes might be getting higher and higher, as Ed Morrissey pithily describes the basic disagreement:
“Tayyip side of the Moon,” reads one piece of graffiti in this AP video taken in Istanbul earlier today.  Another piece of graffiti on a bus window reads “Devil Tayyip,” also taken by the AP.  Both show a certain measure of contempt for Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, and the feeling may be mutual.  Erdogan ordered police to assault the barricades in Taksim Square and end the two-week-long standoff between the Islamist government and the Kemalist protesters[.]
"Kemalist" is a reference to Mustafa Kemal, called "Ataturk" or the "Father of Turkey," who was responsible for the formation of Turkey's secular state over the rubble of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.

And, indeed, this is the basic battle: secularism and pluralism versus barbaric Islamism.

And, right now, barbaric Islamism is winning.

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