Thousands Across Turkey Protest Erdogan’s Autocratic Style

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

Photograph by Scott Peterson/Getty Images

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‘Bunch of Looters’

The premier was defiant in a television interview yesterday, saying the government would push ahead with the redevelopment of Taksim, including plans to build a mosque. “I’m not about to get permission for that” from opposition party leaders or “a bunch of looters,” Erdogan said.

In a televised speech in Istanbul, he also responded to the charge of autocratic ambitions. “I’m not the lord of this nation, dictatorship isn’t in my blood,” he said. “I am in the service of the nation.”

Turkey will hold its first public vote for the presidency next year and there’s speculation Erdogan may stand. Parliamentary elections are due the year after.

Left, a man gestures toward the front line, as protesters battle police in Istanbul, on June 2, 2013.