THE BLOG

It's About More Than a Park

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It was going to be just fine. If they had left us alone. A lot of people who wanted to keep Gezi Park in Istanbul intact were peacefully protesting against the Turkish government's reckless policies. Many people, including me, think that the AKP, the party in power, no longer serves us but rather dictates to us. We, the Turkish citizens, are constantly being told what to do. It feels like Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is playing the role of father figure of the nation.

One day he advises all families to have at least three children. "We are slowly aging," he says. Another day he calls abortion an act of murder and defines C-section births a conspiracy to reduce Turkish population.

When dozens of journalists are decaying in prison cells without trial Erdogan denies that they are reporters and portrays them as terrorists. He does not find it unusual to make statements, such as, "Some books can be more dangerous than bombs."

And while Turkey's cities are rapidly populated by big government housing projects like TOKI, the news about the construction of a new airport near Istanbul where more than two million trees have to be killed or moved is not welcomed by many.

He does not smoke or drink. So he believes the whole country should do likewise. After pushing through a law restricting drinking and advertising alcohol, he calls social drinkers "alcoholics." He suggests that Turkey`s national drink is ayran (a salty yogurt drink) and advises all of us to eat whole grain bread instead of white bread.

When asked about alcohol restrictions he simply says, "I love my people and do not want them to be alcoholics."

Finally when police attacked sleeping protestors and burned their tents in Gezi Park several days ago, a big outcry started. More and more people rushed to Taksim square to protest against the government. Police used tear gas and water heavily on people. Hundreds got wounded. The mainstream media blacked out the news. When thousands of people were protesting some news channels were showing food programs. On the fourth day protests spread to other districts of Istanbul and other big cities in Turkey. People upset with the police's actions took their pots and pans and hit the road.

As I write this, my street is tinkling with the sound of kitchenware -- and tear gas is seeping through my windows. I have no idea where this is going. But along with the tear gas the air is full of freedom and hope.

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