Police officers fire in the air as they clash with protesters at the city’s main Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, June 1, 2013. Turkish police retreated from a main Istanbul square Saturday, removing barricades and allowing in thousands of protesters in a move to calm tensions after furious anti-government protests turned the city center into a battlefield. A second day of national protests over a violent police raid of an anti-development sit-in in Taksim square has revealed the depths of anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who many Turks view as increasingly authoritarian and dismissive of opposing views.(AP Photo)
ISTANBUL (AP) — In a scene reminiscent of the Arab Spring, thousands of people on Saturday flooded Istanbul’s main square after a crackdown on an anti-government protest turned city streets into a battlefield clouded by tear gas.
Though he offered some concessions to demonstrators, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained largely defiant in the face of the biggest popular challenge to his power in a decade in office, insisting the protests are undemocratic and illegitimate.
Public anger has flared among urban and secular Turks after police violently broke up an anti-development sit-in in the landmark Taksim Square, with protests spreading to dozens of other cities as demonstrators denounced what they see as Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style.
As the furious protests entered its second day, police fired tear gas and turned on water cannons at angry demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks and bottles on their march toward Taksim. In an area normally abuzz with tourists, stores were shuttered and protesters fled into luxury hotels for shelter. There were hundreds of arrests and injured.
Turkish authorities later removed barricades and allowed thousands of demonstrators into the square in an effort to calm tension. Sounding defiant even as he bowed to protesters and pulled back police, Erdogan promised to stick to the government’s redevelopment plans — which protesters fear will remove one of the few green spaces in the Login to read more