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How one man started a movement by standing still

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Protesters across Turkey have changed tactics. Instead of yelling at police and shouting slogans, they are starting to stand quiet and still, and are finding that their voices are now louder than ever before.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY (Catholic Online) - Protesters in Turkey have learned a new form of protest - standing still. The shift in tactics was started by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who spent several hours standing silently in Taksim Square in the city center on Monday night.

By doing so, Gunduz was defying orders from the president and police to clear the park. Over the weekend, protesters were cleared from the park, but pedestrians can still enter. Now some of those pedestrians are following his example and standing silently in the park.

His revolutionary form of protest caught on social media and went viral. Within hours, others were joining him and starting their own versions standing defiant at other locations across the country.

Gunduz stood silently staring at an image of Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Ataturk is widely regarded for imposing secular values on the largely Muslim nation, making Turkey one of the freest societies of the entire Middle East.

An hour into his protest, police arrived and searched his pockets and his backpack. Finding nothing, they left.

By Tuesday morning, police had returned and rounded up several of the protesters. Later in the day on Tuesday, people returned and resumed their silent protests.

Over the weekend, national media showed protesters being cleared from Taksim Square, clashing with police as they advanced. The video wasn't flattering for the protesters. However, now police have a new problem.

It's easy to clear shouting, defiant protesters while the cameras roll. It's another thing to clear protesters who are doing nothing more than standing still.

The challenge comes following a weekend pledge from Interior Minister Muammer Guler that those protests that did not threaten public order would be permitted. Now, here is a protest that threatens nothing.

What will the police do now?

A great new movement has started in Turkey, started by one man, standing still.

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