Turkey to Hold Pro-Government Rallies Next Weekend
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is expected to hold pro-government rallies next weekend in Ankara and Istanbul in a bid to fight back against mass anti-government protests, local media said on Sunday, according to RIA Novosti.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has earlier held two rallies in Adana and Mersin, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Hürriyet Daily News has reported.
"We are going to show patience, but patience has a limit as well. Those who hide behind the protestors should first learn what politics is," Erdogan said on Sunday showing no signs of cancelling a redevelopment project in Istanbul despite mass protests.
The Turkish prime minister rejected on Saturday the protestors’ demand for snap elections, saying that "you don't decide on early elections because people are marching on the streets."
The civil unrest in major Turkish cities was sparked by the government’s plans to demolish Gezi Park in central Istanbul and replace it with a rebuilt Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall.
As the number of people protesting the mooted demolition of the park gradually increased, police moved in to disperse the crowds last Saturday by using tear gas. Outraged protesters reportedly responded by hurling stones and bottles at policemen. Over 3,000 people have been injured and at least three people have died in demonstrations across the country in the past week.
Most of the casualties were reported in Istanbul, where demonstrations began before spreading to Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Adana and other Turkish cities. Erdogan blamed the protests on extremists.