Riots In Turkey, Majid has been a member of The Independent’s online editorial team since December 2007. A European football fanatic, he is especially interested in the Dutch game.
Turkey’s Deputy PM Bulent Arinc has apologised to ‘legitimate’ protesters injured in demonstrations opposing the demolition of an Istanbul park after the police crackdown sparked five days of rioting across the country.
The original protests over the redevelopment of Gezi Park were “just and legitimate”, he said.
He called for the unrest to end, saying they had been taken over by “terrorist elements”. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Istanbul and cities across the nation as anti-government demonstrations enter their fifth day.
“The use of excessive force shown against the people who initially started this protest with the motive of protecting the environment was wrong. And it was unfair. So I apologise to those citizens,” Mr Arinc said at a news conference in Ankara.
“But I do not think we need to apologise to those who create destruction of public property in the streets and who try to prevent the freedom of the people in the streets,” he added.
Mr Arinc said he would meet some of the organisers of the original Istanbul protest, which has spiralled into an unprecedented show of anger at the ruling party.
It was unclear whether Mr Arinc was giving the government line.
The comments by Mr Arinc, who took charge of government after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan went ahead with a planned visit to Morocco, contrasted with the defiant dismissal of the protesters as “looters” and “extremists” by the head of state.