Turkish PM gets into row with Reuters reporter over Taksim protests
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued today with Reuters reporter Birsen Altaylı. AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued today with Reuters reporter Birsen Altaylı about the seven-day long Taksim Gezi Park protests, accusing her of misinforming her agency about the situation in the country.
“Don’t tell me that all of society [is supporting the protests], I will not believe it,” Erdoğan told the reporter. “There might be extensions of ideological structures [behind the protests]. This might have gotten them to revolt. You have to see that. What haven’t we done in this country that [led the protesters to] take such a step?” said Erdoğan.
Altaylı also asked the prime minister whether more protesters were coming out onto the streets because he had underestimated their strength.
Erdoğan replied, asking what he could do to moderate the protests. “If you can tell me [what to do], I’ll do it,” he said.
“There is 50 percent of [the country who voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party - AKP], and we can barely keep them at home [and prevent them from coming onto the streets for counter-protests]. But we have called on them to calm down,” the prime minister said after Altaylı said the people on the ground did not represent any single party and that they included students and housewives, unlike Erdoğan’s claims.
After the Reuters reporters said the people on the ground had demands about education and recent alcohol restrictions, Erdoğan said he had seen no demands about education and accused Altaylı of misinforming her agency about the situation.
Before Altaylı’s question session with the prime minister, she had 195 followers on Twitter, but the number exploded to more than 54,000 shortly after the argument.
The protests were triggered last week when a group of people were exposed to gas and water cannon as they attempted to prevent the construction of a shopping mall in a park on Taksim Square.