Turkey remains a possible model of how those who are devout Muslims can work with people of all religions and continue to adhere to democractic principles of equality. Several days ago an alliance of moderate Muslims and secular Muslims came together to protest construction of a mall that would destroy an important park. Prime Minister Erdogan unleashed the dogs of violence against these people and boasted that he would not tolerate anyone to challenge his authority. Many protesters were no only concerned about the park, but growing authoritarian actions of Erdogan which disturb the democratic nature of their nation-bans on alcohol. The police used force, they used gas and a few people were killed. Erdogan blamed protesters and warned about even more severe action.
Fortunately, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc agreed to meet with protesters and praised them for fighting for an environmental issue. “Our citizens showed their legitimate, logical and righteous reaction at Gezi Park.” He even thanked members of opposition parties for their calm reaction. The message would be more powerful if it had come from the prime minister.