Thousands Across Turkey Protest Erdogan’s Autocratic Style

By Selcan Hacaoglu - 2013-06-03T10:56:39Z

Photograph by Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

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'We Want Our Freedom'

In Istanbul, demonstrators smashed and overturned police cars and municipal vehicles, scrawling graffiti on the wreckage then seeking shelter inside as police fired tear gas and water cannons before withdrawing from the central Taksim Square. “From now on, the people will be taken into account,” said Cemil Ardic, 30, as he sat in the driver’s seat of a ruined police car in Taksim while fellow protesters slept inside an abandoned minibus. “The prime minister was asking what we want. We want justice. We want democracy. We want our freedom.”

Erdogan has presided over an economic boom and won three elections, each with an increased share of the vote, making him less vulnerable to the kind of unrest that swept away longtime leaders in Egypt and other Middle East countries two years ago.

Left, protesters stand in front of a fire in Ankara, Turkey, on June 3, 2013.

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