WASHINGTON — Protests continue to rock Istanbul and Ankara as anti-government protesters and demonstrators clash with Turkish police. Reuters reports that these clashes have been ongoing for the past several days and do not look to be stopped anytime soon.
The riots were triggered by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to demolish Taksim Square. The square has been used as a venue for protests and demonstrations in the past, and would have been demolished and replaced by replica Ottoman-era barracks to house shops and apartments.
Some allege that Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to quell democracy, as they had seen the effects of Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria. Turks have long pushed for a secular democracy and resist any change toward an Islamist state.
The country’s Interior Minister Muammer Guler said that 939 people were arrested on Saturday, but that number has climbed since then. At least 1,000 people were injured in the protests and riots, according to medics on the ground. The violent Turkish police reponse led to outrage by protesters, the U.S. and the European Union.
Several tourists caught in between the police and protesters were injured in the melee.