The demonstrations that engulfed Istanbul over the weekend were initially prompted by a small grievance: the government’s decision to build a shopping mall and a replica of Ottoman military barracks in an old, much beloved park where I played as a child.
The impending destruction of Gezi Park and Taksim Square, an important civic space with beautiful water fountains and flower stands, has touched a nerve because it seems an effort to erase the face of the old, majestic Istanbul, which has largely disappeared in favor of shallow, gaudy, stupefied consumerism. But the protests are not just about protecting urban greenery; they reflect a much deeper resistance to the political path being taken by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his increasingly Islamist Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials, A.K.P.
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