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2013年6月13日 (木)

トルコのデモ 首相の強権姿勢が反発招いた

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 13, 2013
Erdogan's heavy-handed policies fan flames of unrest in Turkey
トルコのデモ 首相の強権姿勢が反発招いた(6月12日付・読売社説)

In Turkey, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a month ago, police have fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators to quell protests calling for the resignation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that have continued for more than 10 days.

The protests have brought turmoil to the country, leaving several people dead. We hope the serious unrest will be brought under control as soon as possible.

Turkey is a strategically important regional power that borders civil war-hit Syria and Iraq, which is in the middle of national rebuilding. If Turkey’s political uncertainty becomes prolonged, its burgeoning economy could suffer a setback. The unrest could also deal a blow to efforts to stabilize the Middle East.

The protests were triggered by a heavy-handed crackdown that involved the use of tear gas by police during a protest against a redevelopment plan for a park in the nation’s largest city of Istanbul.

Angry demonstrators, mostly young people, have harnessed the Internet to call on people to rise up, causing the number of antigovernment protesters to swell into the tens of thousands. The protests have since spread to the capital of Ankara and other cities.

Results oriented leader

Despite the criticism, Erdogan has delivered results by rebuilding his country’s economy. In the decade since he took office, Turkey’s gross domestic product has more than doubled, and the nation has raised its international status and become one of the Group of 20 major economies.

Turkish people apparently gave credit to Erdogan’s achievements, as his Justice and Development Party, a moderate Islamic party, overwhelmingly won in general elections in 2007 and 2011. It is understandable that the prime minister is confident in keeping his administration in power.

However, it is evident that public frustration has grown especially among secular people over his Islamic policy and perceived autocratic political style.

Since its foundation in the 1920s, Turkey has applied the principle of secularism, separating religion from politics.

But the recent enactment of a law banning alcohol sales from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has increasingly alarmed secular opponents that the law was enacted to uphold Islamic values.

In the wake of incidents such as the arrests of journalists critical of the government, questions also have been raised over freedom of speech in the country. Some protesters have criticized Turkey’s media as reporting from a pro-government viewpoint.

Authority challenged

According to his party’s rules, Erdogan, who is serving a third term, is supposed to step down as prime minister after the current term. However, there has been speculation that he will seek the presidency after beefing up the presidential authority by amending the Constitution.

Referring to protesters as “looters,” Erdogan remains defiant, urging loyalists of his party to take part in rallies in Ankara and Istanbul to counter antigovernment protests.

Such a firm stance has fueled concern that the confrontation between secularists and supporters of the ruling party will intensify.

Will Erdogan be able to avert further splits in society by listening to the voices of secular people, whose frustration has turned into protests? His ability to handle this incident will no doubt be tested.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 12, 2013)
(2013年6月12日01時18分  読売新聞)


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