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Protests in Istanbul send 'mayday' for Turkish democracy

Demonstrators defied the security clampdown on Istanbul, leading to waves of arrests and another challenge to the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A protester holds a hammer and a sickle sign as he and others shield themselves from police during a May Day demonstration in Istanbul May 1, 2014. Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas on Thursday to prevent hundreds of protesters from defying a ban on May Day rallies and reaching Istanbul's central Taksim Square, the focal point of weeks of protests last summer.         REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY  - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)   - RTR3NDAF

Any foreigner setting foot in Istanbul on the morning of May 1 would find a deserted megalopolis. The dazzling city spanning Europe and Asia, connected by two suspension bridges over the Bosporus strait and an undersea metro, looked as if it were in a state of emergency.

May 1, International Labor Day, in Istanbul has been alarming for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), indeed. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been paranoid since the Taksim Square/Gezi Park events of June 2013 about recurring use of Taksim Square for political protests, and he was determined to prevent it.

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