Turkey: Erdogan speech risks inflaming protest

Premier's hardline speech at airport overnight elicits alarm

07 June, 14:53

    A protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes mask prays on top of a damaged public transport bus near Gezi Park in Taksim Square, Istanbul A protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes mask prays on top of a damaged public transport bus near Gezi Park in Taksim Square, Istanbul

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA - Fears are high in Turkey that Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan's confrontational speech last night upon returning from a four-day mission to the Maghreb could ignite further violence.

    Addressing thousands of his supporters who were chanting slogans like ''Show us the way, we will destroy Taksim'' and ''We're ready to die for you Tayyip'', the embattled premier branded the hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters that have been taking to the streets all over Turkey for the past week as ''vandals'', calling on them to ''immediately'' stop the protest and blaming the unrest on foreign interference.

    ''Honest citizens that have been manipulated by terrorist organizations must turn back'', he warned. Erdogan's words elicited alarm among thousands of anti-government demonstrators who listened to his speech in Istanbul's Taksim Square, in Ankara's Kizilay Square, in Tunali, and in other cities. ''He has declared a civil war. From now on things have changed'', one young protester in Taksim Square reacted. ''He has declared war on his people'', @welsla protested via Twitter. ''There is now a fear of civil war'', tweeted @fulyacandas. ''The most incendiary speech in Turkish politics'', wrote @canikligil. ''Erdogan is setting Turkey on fire'', moderate independent daily Taraf opined.

    Erdogan's deputies have been trying to calm the situation down and to start a dialogue with the protesters while the premier was in the Maghreb. These include President Abdullah Gul and Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc, who on Tuesday apologized for widespread police brutality during the crackdown on the first protests in Istanbul.

    The EU, the US, various Western nations and several human rights organizations have condemned the ferocious police repression of the protest, which has so far left three demonstrators dead and almost 5,000 wounded. One police officer died when he fell from a bridge under construction while chasing protesters.(ANSAmed).

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