by Max Holleran at The Polis Blog
Source: Max Holleran
Protesters react to tear gas on June 15. Source: Enca
Source: France 24
Reconstructed Ottoman military barracks and mall planned for Gezi Park. Source: KHThe protests focused national attention on the AKP’s increasingly oppressive desecularization of society. The party’s deputy chairman recently denounced the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who brought an end to the Ottoman Caliphate and established the modern republic. While such jibes have been isolated and oblique, there have also been more-direct attacks on Atatürk’s secular policies.
Turkish flag with a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Source: Kathimerini
Portraits of Turkey’s great modernizer still adorn public buildings and private shops in Istanbul, and many of the Taksim protesters feel a connection between their efforts and those of the national patriarch. Flags with his photo have been used as symbols of what’s at stake if Erdoğan is given a free hand at widespread reforms.
Members of the AKP suggest that, while acknowledging Ataturk’s achievements, they believe his policies were pushed through too quickly and the country must now reclaim its soul. Many in Istanbul feel the same way about Erdoğan’s urban transformation.
This article originally appeared at The Polis Blog on 28 June 2013.