Protests swept Turkey on Friday and deep into Saturday morning as thousands of protesters called on prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign.
What began as a demonstration against a shopping mall project turned into one of the biggest challenges in recent years to Mr Erdogan’s rule, as whole districts of Istanbul resounded to the banging of pots and pans into the early hours of the morning. Drivers hit car horns in support of the demonstrators.
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However, the size of the protests, and the speed with which they grew, appeared to be a reaction not just to the police crackdown on the initial demonstration in Gezi Park but to Mr Erdogan’s general approach to government.
“Gezi park is the new Tahrir of the region,” said Koray Caliskan, a Turkish columnist, in reference to the epicentre of Egypt’s 2011 revolution.
Although the government is involved in a dialogue with Turkey’s Kurdish population that has brought about a ceasefire in the 30-year conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party, tensions remain high on other fronts.
Opposition politicians and some observers say the crackdown in Taksim is part of an increasingly heavy-handed approach by the Islamist-rooted government, which has used tear gas on several other demonstrations this month. The government has also recently pushed through restrictions on alcohol consumption, much to the anger of members of Turkey’s old secular elite.