As protests continued to rage in Istanbul and smaller cities across Turkey on Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has heaped blame on “extremist elements,” “looters,” and even social media as the supposed root causes of the ongoing unrest that has gripped the usually quiet nation for the past week.
He is unwilling to take even a modicum of responsibility for inspiring the revolts, blaming them on pretty much everyone but himself, his minions and the developers he has helped to enrich during his decade of rule.
"This is a protest organized by extremist elements," Erdogan said during a Monday press conference. "We will not give away anything to those who live arm-in-arm with terrorism."
He went on to blame foreigners and so-called “looters” in that same speech.
“There are those attending these events organized by extremists. This is not about Gezi Park anymore,” he opined. “These are organized events with affiliations both within Turkey and abroad."
On Sunday it was social media that was to blame, if Erdogan was to be believed.
"There is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there," Erdogan said. "The thing that is called social media is the biggest trouble for society right now."
Sounds like the prime minister doth protest too much, and more than that, he’s floundering to find a leg to stand on as he stands unwavering in his condemnations of the protests and readies to escape on an ill-timed four-day sojourn to North Africa that comes as his country remains in the throes of chaos.
But the fact remains that he is wrong. The mere existence of Twitter doesn’t make people fight back against corruption and a wrongheaded plan (now abandoned) to have public parkland converted into a mall by well-connected developers.
Foreign interlocutors didn’t send the police in with tear gas and water cannons to exacerbate the crisis in Gezi Park and turn what was a standard hundreds-strong protest into a war zone and bind Turkey’s citizens together in broad solidarity against the fascist tactics.
“Extremists” didn’t take to the streets to peacefully demonstrate against the government’s incursion into their daily lives by limiting what they can drink, attempting to dictate how they can plan their families and more.
They are not the estimated more than 100,000 people who descended on Taksim Square on Saturday in opposition to Erdogan’s crackdown.
The protesters are, as blogger Tarihinde Yayiladi wrote in a moving piece on Saturday, “a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology.”
Some of them are Yayiladi’s “friends and yoga students.” Some of them are doctors, lawyers, even Turkish lawmakers. Though 1,700 of them were arrested, most of them are not criminals, they are just citizens upset at the state of affairs in a country that is seeing its history and culture decimated by corporatization, corruption and fiat.
The only extremists at this point in Turkish history are the elites in charge of its neo-Ottoman government. They are Erdogan and his cadre, who sent in the authorities to brutally attack their own citizenry, then proceeded to blame them for the violence.
Erdogan and his thugs should be blaming themselves for this dark day in Turkish history.