For the second successive night Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared before his supporters – this time in Istanbul.
State media put the crowd at an estimated one million. The tone was was one of defiance, a show of support aimed at the protesters and the watching world.
He dismissed the demonstrators contention that he was acting like a dictator.
“Please, my people, do not be trapped in this plot, don’t be part of this game. As I said, I’m your servant. Gezi Park and Taksim were cleaned up. Now they have been decorated with flowers. The square has been decorated by true environmentalists by the authorities,” he said.
The crowd heard the prime minister say the protests were nothing more than the minority’s attempt to dominate the majority. “We could not have allowed this and will not allow it,” he added.
“Our prime minister has nothing to do with this situation. The thing is not the park. We all know this. It is not about a few trees. Our government planted 70,000 trees, but nobody talks about that. It is not about the park,” said one woman who attended the rally. Another supporter said: “We were with him 10 years ago, 20 years ago when he was Istanbul mayor and when he was put in prison. We will always be with this ‘big master’. We are proud of him. We are always with our prime minister.”
As hundreds of thousands showed their approval for the prime minister and his ruling AK party, across the city police cordons prevented access to Taksim Square and Gezi park amid clashes with security forces. Istanbul – a divided city.