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Islamization of Istanbul Continues

Istanbul might think twice about celebrating both "Conquest Day" and democracy in Turkey.
The construction site of the third Bosphorus bridge is pictured during its opening ceremony on May 29, 2013 in Istanbul. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid the first stone of the third Bosphorus bridge, a multi-billion dollar construction project expected to deliver the world's widest overpass. "When the project is completely finished, it will alleviate the burden of Istanbul, one of the most important transit corridors of the world," Erdogan said during the groundbreaking ceremony held on the

May 29, 2013, was the 560th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest. One of Al-Monitor's contributors, Kadri Gursel, tweeted, “If you were a real Istanbulian, you would not be celebrating the city’s conquest.” While his tweet generated polarized reactions from all political fronts, another diplomatic pundit told Al-Monitor, “The Islamization of Istanbul is not yet complete, a la neo-Ottoman style.” 

On Conquest Day, there were two other battles in this ever-growing city. The first was the beginning of the construction of the third bridge over the Bosporus. Second, a small recreational area, Gezi Park in Taksim district, was scheduled to be demolished to build a shopping strip. Both of these events may seem rather normal and not political to the unsuspecting eye, but not in Istanbul. Both of these “modernization” projects of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have several religious and political battles embedded in them.

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