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Erdogan's Symbolism Might Spell Trouble With Arabs

A series of statements and actions by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and AKP members could sound ominous if their symbolism is understood.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul (R) wave as they arrive at a groundbreaking ceremony for the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul May 29, 2013. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION POLITICS) - RTX1050K

ISTANBUL — On May 30 in Taksim, I was trying to explain to Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki what the protesters were doing in the park below his hotel room. We could see some of them from the balcony. After I told him that they were opposing a government decision to turn that very park into a shopping mall, themed as a long-gone Ottoman military barracks, Marzouki shook his head in disapproval. Of whom did he disapprove, however? The government or the protesters? Marzouki gave no clue, refusing to speak on the issue.

After we said goodbye, I walked to the park, Gezi Park, to check if some tents that belonged to a handful of "occupiers" had really been torched by the authorities earlier that morning, as media reports had suggested. As I verified the reports with my own eyes, my phone rang. An aide to Marzouki kindly stated that they would like to retract an answer that the president had given me half an hour earlier, during our interview at the hotel.

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