Festive Left Friday Blogging: Resistanbul!


So, I guess you’ve been wondering what’s been going on in Turkey lately. Well, THIS has:

Demonstrators in Taksim Square sing “Bella Ciao”, the Italian antifascist anthem, in Turkish, accompanied by Davide Martello on grand piano.

And here’s a little glimpse into what it’s all about, in case you didn’t already know:

ISTANBUL, June 8, 2013 — A bagpipe squeals over Taksim Square as a ring of demonstrators dances merrily around. The circle largely represents the grab bag of disparate groups that has come together in their anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They say he is becoming increasingly authoritarian and many claim that he has tried to force Islamism — through laws like restrictions on alcohol sales — on a segment of the population that cherishes its secularism.

It is a cause that Zeynep Agbayir, a devout Muslim who proudly dons her head scarf as she joins her husband in the ring, says she strongly supports.

People like Agbayir, 27, and a member of the Muslim Anticapitalists movement, are a rarity in this square.

Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) enjoy widespread support from conservative Muslims whereas the overwhelming majority of protesters identify themselves as secular. But religious participants say there are others like them who would attend were it not for social pressures.

According to Agbayir, Erdogan adds to this tension by manipulating religious Muslims.

“For example, when he said I’m not going to build a mall, but I’m going to build a mosque here, he was playing the religious card — trying to engineer religious kinds of feelings,” she says.

One of Erdogan’s initial reactions to the unfolding protests against a plan to build a shopping center in Taksim Square, was a proposal to scrap the mall project in favor of a mosque and an opera house.

Agbayir’s anticapitalist group might be characterized as Marxist with a religious twist. The organization’s website describes the “sweat and the blood of the working people,” but a spokesperson said the group’s left-wing political values are inherently religious ones.

“The group believes that property belongs to God and that means that the property belongs to the people,” says graphic designer Emin Albayra, 33, beneath the organization’s slogan “God, bread, freedom,” which is emblazoned on the tent she is sitting in. “By being here we’re trying to tell people that this is how it is.”

And this is how it is:


Turks, religious and secular, hand in hand to stop their last green spaces in Istanbul from being sold out to an unholy alliance of quasi-Islamist theocracy and, of course, capitalism. If Kemal Atatürk were alive today, he’d probably smack the shit out of Erdogan.

You can follow Occupy Gezi on Facebook for all the latest.

(Thanks to Cort G. for the video!)

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