For anyone caught unawares by the political protests now roiling Turkey, you’re not alone. But for those looking for simple analogies between the demonstrations sparked by plans to bulldoze an Istanbul park and the regime-splitting Arab uprisings, you’re probably seeking a revolution too far.
As an antidote to this confusion, I’m pleased to recommend a thoughtful, nuanced and extensive discussion between blogger Mark Maynard and my friend Ebru Uras. I met Ebru while while we both served on the NATO International Staff in Brussels and before she joined the U.S Foreign Service. As she explains in this wide-ranging interview, she is a first-generation Turkish-American with an understandably close interest in affairs in the “old country” – and the language ability, cultural background, and family contacts to understand it better than many reporters on the scene.
It goes without saying that Turkey is an important country – populous and economically dynamic, with deep cultural and religious roots and the potential to redefine the contemporary Islamic community. At the same time, vestiges of authoritarianism latent both from the early days of the post-Ottoman republic and more recent military rule remain in this evolving democratic and secular country with European aspirations. These contradictions seem to be precipitating in these demonstrations and clashes with security forces.
To draw this into my larger understanding of politics, the protests over Taksim Square in Istanbul are part of an important, inherently political dynamic –intrinsically separate from formal institutional, governmental and democratic processes – that will help define Turkey and its political and social culture for the future.
My thanks again to Ebru for sharing her interview, and her knowledge, with the wider community.
UPDATE July 14: More information from Ebru:
UPDATE JUNE 11: From Ebru…
UPDATE JUNE 8: Ebru’s Facebook site for OccupyGeziMichigan: https://www.facebook.com/OccupygeziMichigan