Is this the Turkish Spring? No, at least not yet. Is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the new Mubarak? No, at least not yet.
History keeps warning us it takes just a spark to light a political bonfire. The recent spark in Istanbul was provided by a small group of very young environmentalists organizing a peaceful sit-in, Occupy-style, in Taksim Square to protest the planned destruction of one of the city center's few remaining public green spaces, Gezi park.
Gezi park's destruction follows a globally tested neoliberalism
racket; it will be replaced by a simulacrum - in this case a replica of the Ottoman Artillery Barracks - housing, what else, yet another shopping mall. It's crucial to note that the mayor of Istanbul, also from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), owns a retail chain that will make a killing out of the mall. And the man holding the contract for this "redevelopment" is no less than Erdogan's son-in-law.
Predictably harsh police repression led to the protesters being joined by top cadres from Turkey's main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP). And sooner rather than later, the Taksim Square green theme morphed into a Tahrir square-style "Down with the dictator".
By Saturday, Taksim Square was crammed with tens of thousands of people; a multitude had walked across the Bosphorus Bridge from the Asian side of Istanbul, banging pots and pans Argentina 2002 cacerolazo-style, openly trampling the law against pedestrians crossing the bridge. Police duly upgraded the repression to water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas