Brutally Tear-Gassed 'Woman in Red' Is Symbol of Turkey's Occupy Gezi

Turkey's prime minister says the thousands of protesters gathering in Istanbul's Gezi Park are militant activists "living arm in arm with terrorism." This photo of a cop tear-gassing an unthreatening young woman in a simple summer dress implies otherwise.

Turkish police started cracking down hard on peaceful protesters late last week: after four days of calm occupation in Gezi Park, hundreds of cops flooded the square to burn down tents and spew tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons at the mostly young, secular dissenters. The protesters camped out there to oppose the park's planned closure, but the protest has always been (and, thanks to police violence, has definitely become) a larger demonstration against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the center-right religious conservative who has ruled the country since 2002.

Women are coming out in droves to protest Erdogan; many hate his promotion of the headscarf (for "female piety") and overall retrograde attitude towards the ladies. (He has advised Turkish women to each have three kids and recently enacted new anti-abortion laws.)

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"I respect women who wear the headscarf, that is their right, but İ also want my rights to be protected," Esra, a young math student, a math student told Reuters. "I'm not a leftist or an anti-capitalist. İ want to be a business woman and live in a free Turkey."

Erdogan said yesterday that the protesters were "living arm in arm with terrorism." That's why this photo is so powerful. The woman in red, clad in a breezy summer dress, hardly poses a threat to the cop tear-gassing her in the fucking face.

Remember the peaceful student protesters who were pepper-sprayed at UC Davis during Occupy? The cop involved was memeified and eventually lost his job. Perhaps the woman in red will become as effective a symbol; her image is already pasted around Istanbul via stickers and posters. One large one depicts her as a giant next to a tiny cop."The more you spray the bigger we get", reads the accompanying slogan, according to Reuters. We're inspired.

[Reuters]

[Image via nycjim's Twitter]