The Nation: Turkish Protests Are About Democracy, Not Religion

Western media are characterizing the demonstrations as a clash between Islamism and secularism—but it’s government abuse of power that Turks are protesting.

Protests in Istanbul rage on after police violence transformed an occupation by a handful of activists in a public park into massive anti-government demonstrations around the country.

The occupation of Gezi Park, located in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, was initially spurred on by government plans to develop a shopping mall over the park, one of the last remaining green spaces in the sprawling metropolis. Media outside of Turkey wrongly characterized this as a tree-hugging environmental protest, rather than a battle over the nature of urban space. After the protests became world news, Western media got it wrong again by characterizing the uproar as a revolt against Islamic influence in Turkish politics.

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