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In the aftermath of the tragic suicide bomber attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Turkey’s biggest city now feels like a ghost town.
Restaurants sit empty in the Sultanahmet tourist district, and five-star hotel rooms can be booked for bargain prices. As AFP reports, in better times, the queues outside the Hagia Sophia (a former mosque and church that is now a museum) might have stretched an hour or longer at this time of year, today you can walk straight in and share the place with just a smattering of other visitors.
– Suicide bomber attacks police station in central Istanbul (RT, Jan 6, 2015):
A female suicide bomber has attacked a police station in a historic area of Istanbul, leaving one officer dead and one injured.
The woman reportedly spoke English when attempting to enter a police building in Istanbul’s tourist-heavy Sultanahmet district. Her nationality and identity were not immediately established, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin told reporters.
According to the Hurriyet Daily, the niqab-clad woman said that she had left her wallet in the building as a pretext for getting inside.
– Live Stream From Istanbul (ZeroHedge, June 11, 2013)
– Turkey’s Prime Minister: “There is a Now a Menace Which is Called Twitter” (Liberty Blitzkrieg, June 3, 2013):
You know a government is losing it when its leaders express public frustration with a social media website called Twitter. I highlighted how the Saudi government recently had a panic attack about it, saying users would go to hell. Now, in the midst of a widespread uprising that began when Turks protesting the razing of a park in Istanbul near Taksim Square to build a mall and mosque were attacked by police, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is showing his true colors. It is quite obvious that the government’s reason for wanting to tear down the park is to eliminate the most obvious staging ground for future protests in the center of Istanbul. Oh the irony.
From Business Week:
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s prime minister on Sunday rejected claims that he is a “dictator,” dismissing protesters as an extremist fringe, even as thousands returned to the landmark Istanbul square that has become the site of the fiercest anti-government outburst in years.
Over the past three days, protesters around the country have unleashed pent-up resentment against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who after 10 years in office many Turks see as an uncompromising figure with undue influence in every part of life.
A huge, exuberant protest in Taksim Square subsided overnight, but an estimated 10,000 people again streamed into the area on Sunday, many waving flags, chanting “victory, victory, victory” and calling on Erdogan’s government to resign.
With Turkish media otherwise giving scant reports about the protests, many turned to social media outlets for information on the unrest.
“There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” Erdogan said. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
Turkish police fired tear gas at demonstrators before retreating from Taksim Square in Istanbul.
– Turkish police and protesters battle for Taksim square (Telegraph, June 1, 2013):
Some protesters hurled objects at officers and police vehicles, prompting police to fire several rounds of tear gas.
In Ankara, a police vehicle hit two demonstrators who were crouched in the middle of the street, barricading themselves behind rubbish bins.
One of the men who was hit was seen being rescued by other demonstrators and loaded into an ambulance while flashing a “V” for victory sign.
The other man was thrown in the air but appeared to not have been seriously injured.
A demonstration that started in Istanbul on Friday as a peaceful sit-in to save an inner-city green space has turned into nationwide anti-government protests in Turkey, revealing the depth of public anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Many Turks view him as increasingly authoritarian and dismissive of opposing views.
Protesters who had camped out at Taksim were angry over the planned removal of trees in the square, one of the few bits of green in sprawling Istanbul.