By Tevhid Nazmi Basturk (@tevnazmi on twitter)
Amidst what now has become over two weeks of protests that were sparked from plans to pedestrianize Istanbul's Taksim Square, but quickly deviated into a platform of political protests by opposing party factions, yesterday's rally was the first organization for the Prime Minister's and the AK Party's supporters. The massive event that saw over a million supporters storm to Kazlıçeşme serves as a reminder to the public the majority that Prime Minister Erdoğan still holds within Istanbul; a fact that has gone not surprisingly unnoticed in the sensation-seeking foreign press.
The rally, interpreted by the foreign press as an attempted show of power, was in reality much more. It was a statement by the Prime Minister, and the public both, a statement of just how united the country truly is, under a party that holds a large public support of over 50% in a highly polarized multi-party system, a feat that has never before been achieved in the history of Turkey. It served as a statement of just how fed up the public was of the manipulated one sided representation of the past two weeks in the media outlets that are stationed abroad.
"They say "you are too tough", "dictator" they exclaim. What kind of a dictator is this who met the Gezi Park occupiers and honest environmentalists? Is there such a dictator?" Stated Erdoğan addressing the issue, "The attitude across Turkey within the pretext of Taksim's Gezi Park is not sincere. It is nothing more than the minority's attempt to dominate the majority. We could not have allowed this and we will not allow it." Said Erdoğan addressing the masses.
After the rally I interviewed a handful of those attending, and this was their readings of the situation. The reactions were unanimous, a public still unified, who not only find pride in their country, but the man responsible for its rise to local and international prominence. A man they voted into office by democratic means, and one they will continue to support, despite the manipulated misrepresentation and the double standards of international agencies.
Gürkan Coşkun; "Today was a demonstration of "respect for the national will". I have seen that Turkey will never again be pushed into darkness. Today also shows us that Turkey has grown sick of being a toy for the external powers. Today was a day that we sent a message to protect our national pride and honor."
Muhammed İkbal Akın; "The demonstrations that started in Taksim were unfortunately reflected to the outside world (by the western news agencies exaggerating them) as unrealistically chaotic. I joined this demonstration to show support for the Prime Minister we democratically voted for. There were no instances of hate speech or hostility in the demonstration. It (the demonstration) showed the Turkish public's feelings of responsibility for their leader."
Enes Can; "I have never seen an organization of this scale in Turkey, it is one of the largest the country has ever seen. The organization materialized without any violence. The democracy supporting public showed that Turkey is still behind Erdoğan. We believe that no one who loves their public and country as much as him will ever head the country again."
Enes Uslu; Today, an amazing answer was given by the Turkish public; not only to the protestors who are vandalizing artisan and public property, under the guise of protecting a few trees, but also to the external powers that control these protestors. I felt the highest level of happiness from 2 million people. We had watched the occurrences in Taksim from home for more than 2 weeks patiently and we finally came out for today's demonstration. I believe that I am lucky to have a world leader like Erdoğan!
Zeynep Akgüre; "They circulated rumors that they were paying 100TL (60dollars) per person to attend this rally for the people's party. We were not paid to go neither were we pressured into going. We went to make a statement against those trying to mar and vilify our country. We joined the jubilation and lived very emotional moments. No one was cursing on the streets, and no one assaulted the police. No one vandalized and torched the environment. We looked after our country and walked in unity."
Emine Akgüre; "There was an unbelievable atmosphere of happiness and excitement. There were moments where we felt the brotherhood, love, unity and togetherness we shared for one another. Thankfully I was there and a part of the millions of people that came together out of free will.
Ahmet Fatih: "Today I saw my fellow citizens, some 70 year old men and women in wheelchairs, joyfully yelling and happy trying to see the Prime Minister. I saw scores of people leaving their cars kilometers in advance trying to get to the rally square, and police telling them that it was already at capacity. The opposition claims these people are "poor, cheap and uneducated" while spreading rumors that they were paid 100TL to attend. We were in no way paid, or received any other form of gain, we came to support our Prime Minister. We showed the world that he is no dictator. I will forever be proud of being a part of this organization."
Ömer F. K.; "The events that have transpired over the past 2 weeks or so, are actually events that are a reflection of Turkey's recent political history. What the Prime Minister is doing is asserting that Turkey is going on its natural course on its natural path of history. That is why there is such a violent reaction to what is happening in regards to Gezi Park with the rebuilding of the military barracks. The main issue there is that it is not an issue about environmentalism or trees, as the government has planted about 3 billion trees over the past 10 years, it is more an issue about the change in the destiny of the country in terms of leadership in a term coined as sons of the soil."
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