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Erdogan Defies Turkish Protesters in Show of Mass Backing

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned to Turkey early today with a message of defiance for demonstrators gathered in the country’s two biggest cities, saying the government won’t turn a blind eye to “vandalism and illegality.”

Thousands of supporters welcomed Erdogan at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport after 2 a.m. as he returned from a four-day trip to North Africa, the first time government supporters have taken to the streets in large numbers since the protests began a week ago. Tens of thousands more demonstrated against him in the capital Ankara and in Istanbul, where protesters have barricaded off central Taksim Square after police withdrew from the area.