News+Politics June 11, 2013
Turkey's Prime Minister Says He Has "No More Tolerance" For Protests

A protestor throws a tear gas canister back at police in Istanbul on June 11 (Photo: AP)

It's the 11th day of anti-government protests in Turkey, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning he'll show "no more tolerance" for the demonstrations.

Last night, hundreds of police stormed Istanbul's Taksim Square, which is a focal point for protests, and bulldozers were brought in to demolish makeshift barriers put up by demonstrators.

Police also removed banners and flags that protesters had hung from a nearby building and replaced them with a Turkish flag and a portrait of the country's first President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey.

Interestingly, both sides are using his image, as many protesters have marched with Ataturk's portrait as a symbol of their cause.

The raid came as a surprise to many - only hours before, Erdogan had agreed to meet with protest leaders on Wednesday.

Deputy PM Bulent Arinc said Erdogan would "listen to their thoughts," but that illegal protests would not be allowed, BBC News reports.

Speaking about the latest police crackdowns today, the PM stuck to his hard-line approach.

PM Erdogan speaks on Turkish television, June 11, 2013 (Photo: AP)

"The episode is now over. We won't show any more tolerance," he said in a speech to his AK Party that was broadcast on Turkish TV.

He also called the protests "an illegal uprising against the rule of democracy."

All of this started May 31, after police cracked down on a peaceful protest against the demolition of Gezi Park, a green space adjacent to Taksim.

So far, four people have died because of the demonstrations, Erdogan said - including one police officer, and almost 5,000 people have been hurt.

Meanwhile, there was trouble in other parts of Turkey, with riot police dousing demonstrators with tear gas for the third straight night in the capital, Ankara.

The PM has also announced plans to hold rallies of his own in Istanbul and Ankara this weekend, where his supporters will make their voices heard.

One unexpected outcome of the protests? They've brought together fans of Istanbul's three most popular soccer teams.

A Fenerbahce supporter waves his team flag while Besiktas fans hold Turkish flags (Photo: AP)

Supporters of the teams - Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Galatasaray - have been notoriously fierce rivals, engaging in violent battles with one another.

At times, that violence turned deadly: in mid-May, a Fenerbahce fan was stabbed to death by two people wearing Galatasaray clothing.

But Radio Free Europe reports that fan clubs from each team announced their support for the protests on May 31st, and that led to a unity pact.

"I have never seen this kind of thing - all the teams being united because of one main idea," said Galatasaray supporter Namik Kemal Bora Gonulluleroglu. "We are losing our rights and there is no chance to even say this loudly."


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