Turkish press slams handling of Istanbul protests

Image caption, Small scale protest about a local issue has spiralled into widespread anger

Most of the newspapers in Turkey are of the opinion that the protests over the redevelopment of Gezi Park in Istanbul have been mishandled by the police and the government, in particular Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan.

Even the usually pro-government Islamist daily Yeni Safak carries an article with columnist Ali Bayramoglu up in arms about the matter as he asks in his column's headline: "What sort of peace is this? What cruelty is this?"

And several Islamist dailies warn Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) that their actions over the park and the naming of another bridge over the Bosporus could cause them to lose power in a city they have controlled for 20 years.

MURAT YETKIN in pro-secular, English-language daily HURRIYET

It would be a big surprise and perhaps a first of its kind if Erdogan... were to bow to the protesters' will and revise the project to keep the area as a park... But his determination and the disproportionate tough action of the police has managed to turn a pacifist and modest protest into a public protest movement.

How can the political authority allow things to get to this point? How can it see politics as a mechanism of defying and getting done what it says? If there is a public reaction, why won't it [the government] halt the project, even temporarily, and talk to the protestors? Why is it being stubborn? Why does it act so brutally and react so violently?

The government is not ready to listen, but the Gezi Park issue may be the last straw and may pave the way for the eventual electoral loss of the city by the (former) Islamists who have been administrating the city for the past 20 years.

The government has achieved what the opposition parties and the opposition movement could not achieve in the last ten years: It has increased the amount of opposition to the government and it has reinforced the opposition front.

Thousands of people who never resorted to any sort of violence and who did nothing more than sit and chant slogans... were being suffocated with tear gas... They are not insects, they are citizens. They are not the enemy of the police, they are citizens to whom service and security need to be provided... Unfortunately, the police not only considered citizens as enemies, but also treated them as insects and sprayed gas on them.

All across the world, if a state uses extreme force against its citizens, then this has always been seen as proof of its own weakness and its wrongdoing. If the state believed it was right, then it would send politicians and/or local officials instead of the police to persuade the public.

The rhetoric of 'I did it, it is done and it will happen ... is highly unpleasant. Given the circumstances, it would be very difficult for the government to achieve success, let's say, in local elections if they were to happen this autumn... It would be very troublesome to contemplate the extent of the failure in the first elections.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.