Originally published 06/17/2013
Edhem Eldem is a professor of history at Bogazici University.ISTANBUL — THE demonstrators who have filled the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities for nearly three weeks complain that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., has adopted an increasingly authoritarian attitude that threatens basic freedoms. They also resent his tendency to meddle in the personal lives of citizens — by condemning abortion or trying to control the sale and consumption of alcohol.But Mr. Erdogan isn’t the first Turkish leader to have flirted with authoritarianism and social engineering. This is important to remember, since many of his opponents tend to hark back to a nostalgic past, best illustrated by the profusion of Turkish flags and images of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
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