Turkish court throws out Taksim redevelopment project that sparked mass protests

By Reuters
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 11:56 EDT
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Two protesters lie on the ground of Taksim Square as they stage a silent protest in Istanbul
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(Reuters) – A Turkish court has cancelled a project to redevelop Istanbul’s central Taksim square, a copy of the court’s decision showed, ruling in a dispute that triggered a nationwide wave of violent anti-government protests.

The administrative court ruled in early June, at the height of the unrest, that a master plan to reshape the square violated preservation rules, the square’s identity and other regulations, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The decision may jeopardize what many saw as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s personal quest to remake Taksim Square in the teeth of opposition that led to mass protests over his perceived authoritarian style of rule.

Erdogan said on June 14 that his government would wait for the judiciary to rule, including the appeals process, before proceeding with Taksim’s development.

The leafy Gezi Park, one of central Istanbul’s few green spaces, became a makeshift campsite occupied by thousands of people to stop the park’s demolition and protest at the government’s plans.

Anger mushroomed into mass demonstrations against Erdogan’s rule and Islamist-inspired policies in late May and simmered for much of June in several Turkish cities. Four people were killed and some 7,500 wounded in the police crackdown, the Turkish Medical Association has said.

(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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