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Gezi Park is not (just) about what you think

For many of the activists in Gezi Park, they are saying it as loudly and clearly as they can: The issue is not Islamism, it’s neo-liberal capitalism. So why are we so unwilling to hear that critique? Because it would force us to confront our own demons of economic injustice.

Anti-Capitalist sign at Gezi Park

There is something amusing the more you listen to the protestors in Gezi Park and Taksim Square, and the coverage of these protests.

For many of these activists, they are saying it as loudly and clearly as they can:
The issue is not Islamism, it’s neo-liberal capitalism.

Against AKP Neo-Liberalism

Against AKP Neo-Liberalism

And somehow CNN, BBC, MSNBC can’t seem to get that.
It’s comical, actually.

As long as Muslim-majority societies express themselves as being against “Islamism”—a caricature that lumps together everything from Taliban to Muslim Brotherhood to Iranian government to the AKP—these media sources are happy to report it.

When the activists from these societies state that it’s global capitalism that they reject, Western media ignores they message, and keeps coming back to the vague message that they want “freedom.”

Yes, these Muslims—and many of them do self-identify also as Muslim—want freedom.

Many of them want freedom from a life of consumerism.

They want freedom from a life defined by consumption, by things.
They want freedom from having shopping malls dominate their life, their urban spaces.  Here is a sign mocking the Coca-Cola logo to spell out their opposition to rampant capitalism.

Anti-Capitalist sign at Gezi Park

Anti-Capitalist sign at Gezi Park

Here they are, in their own words:

we once again claim our demands:
“Taksim Gezi Park will not be re-developed under the name of Artillery Barracks or any other project…”

This is the same message that Dr. King had for us at the end of his life, that we needed to change from being a thing-centered society to a person-centered society.   And we don’t want to hear about that Dr. King either.

So go ahead, pretend that it is just about opposition to PM Erdogan.    Or the AKP. Or that they want “freedom and democracy” divorced from any economical notion of global justice.

Because if we were willing to hear what many of these protestors are saying, it would also force us here to confront our own demons, our own thing-ificaiton.

As long as we make this only an issue about fighting “Muslim authoritarianism”, we are still in our comfort zone.

If we acknowledge that many in the world, even in places that are “doing well” such as Turkey see through the charade of neo-liberal capitalism, we are in that uncomfortable space which just may be the gateway to real growth.    That would be growth towards a new global reality that would unite people from all over the world in a way that is actually sustainable for all of us, unlike the myth that we are living in today.

It seems like at least some people around the world are hearing the Turkish protestors, loud and clear….This image from Seattle.


Seattle in solidarity with Gezi Park

Seattle in solidarity with Gezi Park

And another one.   (excuse the language).

solidarity with Gezi Park

solidarity with Gezi Park


Images are from the author, and the Taksim Solidarity FB page.