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A Question Of Respect - Why The Protests In Turkey Are Different

A whirling sufi protesting in Ankara on June 2
A whirling sufi protesting in Ankara on June 2
Ahmet Hakan

ISTANBUL - This does not look like the semi-official demonstrations that preceded the May 27, 1960 Coup d’état where chants of “the military and the people walk hand-in-hand” were heard.

This does not look like those political rallies intolerant to the lifestyle of religious people, where the demand of “We do not want a headscarved first lady” was voiced.

This does not look like the demonstration with those brutal “the army called to duty” banners, demanding another coup.

This does not look like the merciless actions aimed at the elected rulers that drew strength from the military.

This does not look like those illegal groups vandalizing the public space with Molotov cocktails, iron weapons and thrown stones.

This does not look like the charmless noises made by a small group of elites eager not to lose their privileges.

This does not look like the Ergenekon demonstrations, actions promoted by the so-called "deep state" or the calculated rallies with secret agendas.

This does not look like the churlish demonstrations in which the most unjust people chant wild slogans.

This is something different…This is something completely different.

What is this then, the past four days of spreading unrest on Turkey's streets? Just what sort of phenomenon are we witnessing?

Something like this, more or less:

This is the cry of those who say “don’t say ‘I have decided this and it will be done’ by relying on your majority status; hear what I have to say too.”

This is the plea of those who say “Speak kindly to me, do not look down on me and treat me with care.”

This is the reasoning of those who say “I do not intervene in your lifestyle, do not intervene in mine.”

This is the rage of those who say “You may not love what I love, but you have to show me respect.”

This is the roar of those who say “Do not perceive yourself as the Prime Minister of the 50% only, be my Prime Minister too.”

This is the people who say “Do not be stubborn, do not use force, learn to take a step back,” and by doing so, standing tall.

This is the call from those who say “Do not say I know what is best; pay attention to the sensitivities of the people who are not with you, even if they were just one percent.”

This is the warning of those who say: “Put regulations on alcohol but do not look down on those in front of you while doing so.”

This is people standing up and saying: “Enough! Stop with the pepper spray…You have practically changed the climate of the country.”

This is the bursting out of those who say: “If you only care about the freedoms of those like you, then I stand up for my freedoms.

In short…

This is not a matter that can be explained by saying “ideological things”, “deep state”, “provocateurs”, “illegal organizations” or “CHP” (Republican People's Party).

Like I said: This is something else; something completely different…

[rebelmouse-image 27086933 alt="""" original_size="800x477" expand=1]

June 1 protests and violence in Ankara - Photo: Sabri76


LESSON 1: The terrain that is called “social media” is an uncontrolled space. The news there is subjected to no filters. People who provoke things by saying “50 people were murdered” have the same voice as people trying to calm things down. Therefore, you should not let social media be the one and only news source. It gets to play the leading role in an atmosphere in which the television channels and televisions cannot cover the events properly. In such a situation, what is the meaning of (Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan) whimpering about “They tweeted lies, created chaos, caused provocation?”

LESSON 2: I was in the streets. I observed, listened to the slogans and tried to understand the target of the rage. Nobody I saw was reacting to President Abdullah Gül, or to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç or the chief of police. Nor were they reacting to the governor or mayor. A single name was spoken everywhere: Tayyip Erdogan. Why? I think it is because Tayyip Erdogan talks about a project to be built in Istanbul more than the city’s mayor. Exactly like Tayyip Erdogan talking about the Syrian issue more than the foreign minister. Is it not natural for one person to be the target of all the rage when one person is perceived as the single decision-maker?

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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