Chicago is a city with a diverse ethnic population. Turkish people comprise a large community in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Yesterday several Chicago Turks protested across from the Turkish Consulate, located at 455 City Front Plaza (The NBC Building). They were joined by a small contingent from Occupy Chicago, who accompanied them in solidarity.
Turkey has seen unrest recently over the government's ruling party crackdown on their secular way of life. Turkey, though a Muslim country, has prided itself on secularism and religious tolerance. According to the protesters, over half the population of Turkey lives a secular and tolerant way of life.
The protesters here and abroad claim the AKP, the ruling party, is is attacking secularism and creating a conservative Islamic government, forcing Islam into mainstream life. They are attempting to ban alcohol sales and advertising, public displays of affection, and they are destroying monuments to Turkey's secular way of life.
The protesters further allege the Turkish government has destroyed freedom of the press and imprisoned more journalists critical of government policies than China. They claim most media outlets are so fearful to openly criticize the government reports of dissent are toned down.
The CHP, the parliamentary voice for secular people, is said to be treated as an enemy of the state. Their representatives are alleged to be harassed by police and the judiciary system.
The Turkish protesters claim Turkey is allowed to get away with repression and oppression with the tacit support of the United States government. Turkey is a powerful American ally in the Middle East. Protesters accuse the United States of ignoring human and civil rights violations to appease the Turkish government. According to the protesters, secular Turks, who make up over half the population of Turkey are becoming adversarial in their opinions of our country.
The protesters allege the Turkish police force has taken on the mantle of conservative Islam and is enforcing it in brutal ways. According material handed out by the protesters most police brutality in Turkey is a direct result of the Islamification of the police force.
The mass protests in Turkey are described as the biggest threat to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's power. The protests are seen as a direct challenge to Erdogan's authoritarian and conservative Islamic outlook on the lives of secular Turks. Since the population is over half secular, the protests and violence could go on for an indefinite period of time.
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