Tens of thousands of protesters took part in street demonstrations in Turkey’s four biggest cities on Sunday and clashed with police for a third straight day. Despite some isolated clashes in what is widely being described as the largest anti-government protests in years, the atmosphere was “calmer and largely peaceful,” at least in Istanbul, reports the BBC. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan didn’t seem too concerned with inciting protesters further, accusing the opposition of orchestrating the demonstrations, and calling the crowds that have descended on Turkey’s streets as nothing more than “a few looters,” reports Reuters.
The huge protest in Taksim Square, where the unrest broke out Friday, largely broke up overnight Saturday, but it came back to life Sunday when some 10,000 people went into the area Sunday. “Anyone not following events across Turkey might assume there was a big festival [in Taksim Square]: Live concerts, people singing and dancing,” writes the BBC’s Selin Girit.
Eager to show he was unfazed by the protests that have called for his resignation, Erdogan delivered two speeches and gave one television interview Sunday, reports the Associated Press. "There is now a menace which is called Twitter," Erdogan said. "The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society." Turks have largely been forced to rely on social media for coverage of the protests that have been largely ignored by local media.
Meanwhile, Syrian officials once again didn’t hide their delight at the situation in Turkey as authorities advised citizens of the country where approximately 80,000 have been killed in the ongoing civil war not to travel to neighboring Turkey because it’s too dangerous, reports Reuters. Syria’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement advising Syrians “against travel to Turkey for the time being for their own safety, because of the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities...and the violence of Erdogan's government against peaceful protesters.”