WASHINGTON — Turkey, once considered a fledgling democracy, may be turning towards a police state under Islamist influence. The widespread democratic and anti-government protests have resulted in a stronger response than previously anticipated.
Reuters reports that the Islamist-leaning government, run by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has sent Turkish anti-terrorist police forces to raid homes across the country. They targeted the leaders of the protests and have deatined at least 20 people.
The protests started in late May when the government planned to level a popular protesting location and symbol of democracy in an Istanbul park. The police brutality that was shown across the world on international news television shocked the free world.
It also did not help that the Turkish government also banned alcohol sales at peak times at night and banned advertisements for alcohol, which enraged secular and liberal Turks.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who had been hailed as a democratic leader, is now under significant international scrutiny. He said the protesters were influenced by foreign “terrorists” and influences, and his strong response echoes this sentiment. Erdogan has tried to save face in the international world by staging mass rallies of his Islamist and religious backers, but as the demonstrations showed the liberal and democratic Turks are fighting back.
Turkey has tried to enter the European Union for decades, but with recent developments it looks like this will be stalled once again.