“Thank you for supporting the protesters. So glad to have you here,” a non-veiled woman told theologian Ihsan Eliacik in Taksim Square as she shook his hand. Another followed. The group of people surrounding him grew by the minute. The support Eliacik extends to the protests by reciting verses from the Quran has been universally welcomed — from atheists and socialists to Kemalists and hard-line secularist-nationalists.
The government apparatus has used a determined tactic of “demonizing” the protesters in a bid to prevent the spread of the demonstrations gripping Turkey for days. Conspiracy theories have been fabricated to portray the protests as a plot by those who were behind the “post-modern coup” in 1997 or the “Ergenekon network.” Had the Gezi events been a revolt only stirred by Ataturkists, secularists, nationalists, marginal leftist groups and supporters of the main opposition Republican People's Party, this would have played into government hands. But that is not the case. Though a small group, people as pious as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become “the religious voice of the revolt.”