The beginning of a Turkish spring?

Thousands of protesters gather for a rally at the Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 3, 2013. This place has become the hotbed for protests since the last week of May. Photo: AP
It all began on May 27, 2013, when a group of environmentalists gathered at Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest the government's plan to demolish the Taksim Gezi Park as part of a re-development plan. Riot police used pepper gas to disperse demonstrators. Photo: AP
While police succeeded in dispersing the group, thousands re-assembled on the the same spot. But this time they were better equipped. Photo: AP
The graffiti in Turkish reads “Freedom for headscarf, freedom for alcohol”. What started as a green protest slowly turned into a movement against the government’s “regressive” policies. Photo: AP
Though Turkey, a Muslim majority trans-continental country surrounded by Islamic nations such as Iraq, Iran and Azerbaijan on one side, chose to be secular like its European neighbours (Greece, Bulgaria and Georgia). Photo: AP
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (in the poster) was the founder of modern Turkey. A believer of Western ideologies such as secularim, democracy, sovereignty and social equality, Atatürk imparted these into the new Turkish constitution. Photo: AP
Turkey continues to embrace Islam — the religion of majority Turks and Kurds — its traditions and culture, but there is no state religion. Photo: AP
The pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party or Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) in Turkish, is the ruling party. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a history of facing a ban from holding any political office since 1994 for his Islamist views. The ban was revoked in 2003. Photo: AP
In 2008, Turkey's top court annulled a law allowing women to wear Islamic head scarves at universities. This was a heavy blow on the Erdoğan government, whose supporters were largely radical Islamists. Photo: AP
Erdoğan was criticised in Turkey, especially in the social media, for his conservative policies such as banning alcohol, kissing in public and anti-abortion stand. He even called the micro-blogging site Twitter “the worst menace to the society”. Photo: AP
The police excess back-fired on the government as thousands took to the streets chanting anti-government slogans. Some pitched their tents on the Taksim Square, creating a Tahrir Square-like situation. Photo: AP
Erdoğan dismissed the demonstrators as “capulcu”, a Turkish word that translates as looter. Protesters quickly turned the word to their advantage. They made it their own, creating a brand new verb — “capulling” — which means protesting, resisting the tear gas and shouting anti-Erdoğan slogans. Photo: AP
The protest slowly spread to over 67 towns and cities, including capital Ankara. Photo shows a protester with Guy Fawkes mask outside Kizilay Square in Ankara. Photo: AP
The protests forced Prime Minister Erdoğan to cut short his four-nation trip and return to Turkey. He took a combative stand against the protests, saying it must come to an end. Photo: AP
Erdoğan and his party continue to earn support from Islamists and his traditional base — the rural population. However, reports suggest growing support to the anti-government protests. Photo: AP
Erdoğan supporters gather outside the Ataturk Airport of Istanbul on June 7, 2013, upon his arrival. In some places, such as Adana, clashes were reported between pro- and anti-government demonstrators. Photo: AP
Despite the comparisons, the Taksim protests are unlikely to lead to a Egypt-like revolution as what Turkey needs now is a reinforcement of the Atatürk ideology and not a change in its political system. Photo: AP

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