Turkey police quells protests in Istanbul with tear gas, rubber bullets

ISTANBUL — Turkish police on Saturday used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse protesters against radical Islamists’ assault in Istanbul on Friday night.

Over 500 people gathered in Cihangir Square in central Istanbul with beers in hands to protest against the attack and the government’s excessive conservative and Islamist policies.

A group of 20 assailants beat up people in a record store in the up-scale Cihangir neighborhood of Beyoglu district over their drinking alcohol during Ramadan, a time when Muslims in Turkey and around the world practice fasting.

With sticks and bottles, the assailants attacked the owner of the store and his customers who were there listening to the new album of Radiohead, a British music band. Several were slightly injured in the attack.

The incident quickly spread over social media, triggering anger against the assailants.

Despite the use of force by the riot police, the demonstrators were refusing to leave the area.

The crowd were also voicing opposition to a new plan to reconstruct Gezi Park in central Istanbul, as was announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

The president unveiled his plan to transform the park into Ottoman-era military barracks, but the protesters in Cihangir Square chanted, “This is just a start, we will continue to fight.”

Plans to raze the park for a large development project triggered large-scale anti-government protests across Turkey in 2013. PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com