The Norman Transcript

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June 17, 2013

international briefs

NORMAN — More Turkey unrest

ISTANBUL — Riot police firing tear gas and water cannons repelled thousands of anti-government protesters attempting to converge on Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on Sunday, unbowed even as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended his crackdown at a rally of his supporters.

A day after police quashed an 18-day sit-in at the square’s Gezi Park, Erdogan spoke to hundreds of thousands of his supporters on one side of Turkey’s largest city, and throngs of protesters angrily tried to regroup and reclaim Taksim. The square had become the symbolic center of defiance against Erdogan’s government.

The contrast between the two events highlighted growing divisions in Turkish society, which many say have been exacerbated by Erdogan’s fiery rhetoric as he faced down the most widespread protests in his 10-year tenure.

Although they have dented his international image and angered many at home, the protests are unlikely to prove a significant challenge to his government. He was elected with 50 percent of the vote just two years ago.

Plees to the Pope

CARACAS, Venezuela — Pope Francis should pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to focus on promoting democracy and peaceful coexistence to ease tensions with the socialist government’s opponents, the Catholic Church’s top representative in the country said Sunday.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa said he expected the pontiff to try to persuade Maduro during their meeting Monday at the Vatican to cease his verbal attacks on political rivals and critics

The cardinal said he hopes to see “increased serenity and impartiality in the president’s language” following the meeting.

“Hopefully when (Maduro) returns he will use much more calm and democratic language, and also recognizes the existence and importance of those who belong to the opposition,” Urosa said during an interview telecast by the privately owned Globovision channel.

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