Ankara: In a series of increasingly belligerent speeches to cheering supporters on Sunday, Turkey`s Prime Minister launched a verbal attack on the tens of thousands of anti-government protesters who flooded the streets for a 10th day, accusing them of creating an environment of terror.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the most inflammatory of his speeches as he arrived in the Capital, Ankara. Erdogan belittled the protesters, again calling them "capulcu," the Turkish word for looters or vandals. He made his speech in Ankara on an open-top bus, which then drove into the city in a motorcade.
"If you look in the dictionary, you will see how right a description this is," Erdogan said, speaking to thousands of supporters who greeted him at the airport. "Those who burn and destroy are called capulcu. Those who back them are of the same family."
The increasingly fiery tone could inflame tensions, with protesters in both Ankara and the country`s largest city, Istanbul, remaining on the streets. Protests have been held in at least 78 cities across the country so far.
On two occasions, including one in the southern city of Adana on Saturday night, clashes have been reported between Erdogan supporters and protesters.
"All they do is to break and destroy, to attack public buildings ... They didn`t stop at that," Erdogan said. "They attacked daughters who wear headscarves. They entered Dolmabahce mosque with their beer bottles and their shoes."
Some of the injured in the initial clashes in Istanbul`s Besiktas area were treated in Dolmabahce Mosque. The mosque`s imam has denied reports that people entered with beer. In the initial days of the protests, some women said they were harassed verbally. The majority of protesters however, have denounced those who did it and have been welcoming toward them.
Anti-government protesters have turned Erdogan`s label of them as "capulcu" into a humorous retort, printing stickers with the word, scrawling it on their tents and uploading music videos onto social network sites.
Erdogan had earlier visited another two cities where unrest had occurred and made speeches again condemning his detractors. He planned more speeches in a day that looked much like an election candidate on the campaign trail.
After the speech, crowds at Istanbul`s Taksim Square swelled, with several tens of thousands packing into the square. Thousands more flooded Ankara`s Central Square, a day after police used tear gas and water cannons to oust them from the area.