During this time, the AKP adjusted its political line, shaking off its radical Islamic image. Although it made a big fuss about religious issues such as women’s headscarves, it dropped its original ideals in relation to urban development.
Istanbul has chopped down woods to build shopping centers and permitted the construction of skyscrapers taller than mosques.
To attract tourists, it has promoted the construction of scenery modeled on the Ottoman Empire.
The government’s current plan to clear away one of the inner city’s few remaining parks is intended not just to build a shopping mall, but also to rebuild the Ottoman barracks that used to stand there.
However, ironically, urban development projects in Istanbul have entailed demolishing many historic buildings.
Once in office, the once-persecuted AKP has used the offense of “insulting Turkey” to counter its opponents.
It is reminiscent of the Democratic Progressive Party, which criticized the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) when it was in opposition, but employed the same law to keep social movements in check once it was in power.
The Turkish government is demolishing a park on the pretext of restoring Ottoman architecture without consulting the public first.
This kind of maneuver has a great deal in common with the Taipei City Government’s plans for the area occupied by the air force’s General Headquarters now that it has moved elsewhere.
Despite the fact that there are so few green areas in Taipei, the city government has decided to meet the demands of land speculators with a development plan supposedly modeled on Tokyo’s Roppongi district.
Li Shang-jen is an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology.
Translated by Julian Clegg