Monday, June 3, 2013

Tensions Rise in Turkey Over Possible Opera House Location

"The protests were triggered by a smaller campaign to protect Gezi Park at Taksim Square, a small and rare patch of green space in central Istanbul which the government wants to raze to build a multipurpose building modeled after a historic Ottoman barracks. An administrative court on Friday ruled to halt construction at the park, providing a brief, if temporary, win for the protesters seeking to preserve the park. In the past five days, demonstrations have gained more steam and attracted a broader swath of the population with each heavy-handed police response that helped turned the event into an antigovernment rally. As protesters continued to move toward Taksim Square, many reported that social-networking sites, which demonstrators have used to organize gatherings, were interrupted or not functioning. Turkey's telecoms regulator said in a statement that any disruption was due to heavy traffic, rather than a government intervention, which would require a court order. Mr. Erdogan's remarks on Saturday showed little sign that he would succumb to protesters' demands to abandon government construction projects, let alone resign. The premier also said that a cultural center at Taksim Square named after modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, should be replaced with an opera house, further inflaming tensions with secularist Turks devoted to the country's first president." [Source]

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