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Turkey’s Protests Send a Strong Message, But Will Not Bring Democracy


What follows below is the original, unedited version of my oped in the Financial Times today, for those who cannot access it.

(UPDATE: I should add that neither the title of the FT piece nor the subtitle is mine. The subtitle in the print edition "A political class has turned violent to mask its weaknesses" is misleading and has little to do with the content of my piece; I have no idea why the FT found it apt.)

The protests that engulfed Turkey in recent days caught by surprise even those observers who, like me, have been vehement critics of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule. What started as a small demonstration against the planned demolition of a rare green space in the middle of Istanbul has escalated into violent confrontations nationwide involving tens of thousands of disaffected Turks of all political stripes.

The immediate cause was police brutality. Turks are used to rough behaviour by their police, but the images circulating in social media this time caused widespread outrage. The preponderance of head wounds suggested that police were firing tear gas canisters directly at protestors’ heads. One victim was Ahmet Şık, an intrepid journalist previously jailed on trumped-up charges, whose photo with a bloody gash on his head was widely circulated.

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Tratto da rodrik.typepad.com