Queen's University

Deadly protests continue in Turkey: Queen's University expert

2013-11-12

Queen’s University Middle East expert Ariel Salzmann is available to comment on the anti-government protests in Turkey. A 22-year-old man was reportedly killed in the overnight clashes, the second fatality since the demonstrations began.

The unrest was triggered by protests against government plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks to house shops or apartments in Taksim. It has now widened into a broader show of defiance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“If the unrest in Turkey has caught many by surprise, it is because our assumptions about the ‘Turkish model’ were wrong,” says Dr. Salzmann. “Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Turkey's democratic process dates back more than two decades. Although the ruling Justice and Development party has played an important role in this process, over the past years, its leaders have used their electoral clout and simultaneous crises in European Union and Middle East to subvert democracy. Violent reprisals against peaceful protests, repression of their critics, efforts to legislate or impose its own conservative cultural mores, arrests of elected officials, and the model of development which threaten workers' rights and the country's environment have united groups across the political spectrum. Today, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Kurds and Turks, right-wing and left-wing parties, soccer clubs, universities, and LGBT groups, as well as trade and professional unions, have joined anti-government protests across the country.”

Dr. Salzmann is a historian who specializes in Turkey, the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire. Her book, Tocqueville in the Ottoman Empire, talks about the historic roots of political change and revolution in the Middle East.

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officer Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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