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Middle East Today: Turkey --- Mass Protests and Clashes Move Beyond Istanbul

Police confront protesters in Turkey

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Syria Today: Deadly Clash Between Insurgents and Hezbollah in Lebanon
Sunday's Middle East Today: Turkey --- Will the Protests Grow?

Turkey: Prime Minister and President Getting Different Messages?

Meeting Vice President Bulent Arinc, President Abdullah Gul indicated that he "had gotten the message" from protests.

Asked about this tonight, Prime Minister Erdogan said, "I have got no message. I don't know who got what message."

The Prime Minister again declared his legitimacy through elections, "Democracy's soul is in ballot boxes. The people's initiative is revealed in the form of voting."

Turkey: Protest in Northwest City of Bursa Tonight

Turkey: Casualty Figures

The Turkish Medical Association says 1845 people have been injured since Friday. Two are in critical stage, and five in intensive care.

A municipal worker lost his eye when he was struck in the eye by police fire in Ankara today.

Turkey: Erdogan Dismisses Protesters

Speaking during a visit to Morocco, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said tonight that he has "received no message from the crowds", labelling them "marginals" in cooperation with opposition parties.

Erdogan downplayed the demonstrations, which began over the re-development of Gezi Park in Istanbul:

The protests weren't about the squares or the trees, some parties were not happy about results of the elections.

The situation is a lot calmer now and reason seems to be prevailing. I think things will return to normal. These demonstrations are not all over Turkey, just in some big cities.

Erdogan also dismissed allusions to changes and uprising in Middle Eastern countries in the past two years:

We already have a spring in Turkey. But there are those who want to turn this spring into winter. Be calm, these will all pass.

Turkey: Police Firing on Crowds in Istanbul

Police firing on crowds walking from the Besiktas section of Istanbul to Taksim Square tonight:

An EA correspondent reports from Besiktas, "Tonight is worse! Every street is full of police and water cannons. A longer night is waiting.

Turkey: The 1000s in Istanbul's Taksim Square Tonight

Egypt: Activist Gets 6-Month Sentence for "Insulting President"

The Tanta Misdemeanour Court has sentenced Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma to six months in prison for insulting the President and circulating false news on a TV programme.

Douma, detained since 30 April, had called President Morsi a killer and a criminal. The court ruled that such acts would "undermine state security and terrorise people".

A protest in solidarity with Douma, a member of the Egyptian Popular Current, took place in front of New Cairo Court on Monday,with supporters chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Douma was imprisoned last year during miitary rule, following a clash with army personnel in front of the Egyptian Cabinet's headquarters near Cairo's Tahrir Square. He was conditionally released last April pending further investigation.

Turkey: Protests and Clashes in Ankara

There have been reports this afternoon of police in Ankara using tear gas on about 1000 protesters in Kizilay Square. Other demonstrators have shut off a road to the square, taunting police stationed nearby:

Turkey: Protesters in Front of State Broadcaster NTV, Complaining About Lack of Media Coverage

Chants of "Government Resign" at the Kanyon Mall in the Levent Business District of Istanbul

Turkey: Assessing the Protests

Sinan Ulgen writes in Foreign Policy:

First, the mass demonstrations are against the non-participatory style of decision-making adopted by the Erdogan government, but they are not ideological. They have not been hijacked or led by any single political party or ideology, as the protesters hail from disparate backgrounds and represent the rich diversity of Turkish society. They are composed of youth, women, football club supporters, trade unionists, college students, NGO activists, and urban professionals.

Second, there is for the first time a sense of empowerment against a government that has dominated the political scene for the past decade. This sense of popular empowerment stands in stark contrast with the dismal performance of Turkey's Parliamentary opposition....

And then there is the media. Turkey's mainstream media has become the laughing stock of the country. While Istanbul was burning with tear gas, Turkish TV channels were busy broadcasting documentaries, cooking shows, or soap operas....

The way forward is, however, unclear....Yet regardless of how the events unfold in the coming days, there are two conclusions that can be drawn even now from this episode of unplanned and yet massive protest movements that shook one of Europe's largest cities: one is the glaring need to fundamentally restructure the media in Turkey; and the other the urgency of behavioral change in Erdogan's leadership style.

Egypt: Parliament Ruled Illegal but Continues

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on Sunday that the upper house of Parliament, the Shura Council, was illegally chosen.

However, the court said the chamber would not be dissolved until the lower house is elected later this year or early in 2014.

The judges also said a panel drafting the Constitution, already disbanded after completing its task, was illegal.

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled in June 2012 that the lower house of Parliament should be dissolved, effectively leaving the Shura Council --- elected by only 7% of the people last year --- as Egypt's only law-making body.

Turkey: Mass Protests Expand Beyond Istanbul on Sunday

Mass protests, which began on Friday, expanded last night as tens of thousands of people demonstated in Turkey's four biggest cities, with iot police using tear gas and water cannon in Ankara, Izmir, and the Besiktas section of Istanbul

The atmosphere in Istanbul's Taksim Square --- where the protests began with a sit-in against the Government's redevelopment of Gezi Park for a shopping mall and residences --- was peaceful and festive.

However, in the nearby Besiktas neighbourhood, riot police used the gas and cannons to keep crowds away from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office in Dolmabahce Palace.

The security forces also tried to disperse crowds in Ankara's main Kizilar Square, raiding a shopping complex in the city's centre and detaining several hundred people. Earlier, they had moved against a crowd who blocked roads leading to Erdogan's offices and used a mechanical digger and trucks to break through police lines.

In the western port city of Izmir, protesters threw fire bombs at the offices of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). TV footage showed part of the building ablaze.

In Istanbul, bus shelters, paving stones, and street signs were ripped up by protesters to make barricades on a major avenue by the Bosphorus strait.

Minister of Interior Muammer Guler, the interior minister, told the Hurriyet newspaper that there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities.

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