Istanbul – Turkey’s government on Wednesday offered a first concrete gesture aimed at ending nearly two weeks of street protests, proposing a referendum on a development project in Istanbul that triggered demonstrations that have become the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 10-year tenure.
Protesters expressed doubts about the offer, however, and continued to converge in Taksim Square’s Gezi Park, epicenter of the anti-government protests that began in Istanbul 13 days ago and spread across the country.
The protests erupted May 31 after a violent police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in by activists objecting to a development project that would replace Gezi Park with a replica Ottoman-era barracks. They then spread to dozens of cities.
The referendum proposal came after Erdogan, who had been defiant and uncompromising in recent days, met with a group of 11 activists, including academics, students and artists, in Ankara.
The discussion was the first sign that Erdogan was looking for an exit from the showdown and came hours after some European leaders expressed concern about recent strong-armed Turkish police tactics.
Southern Baptist Convention criticizes Scouts
Houston – The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday expressing its opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s new policy allowing gay Scouts, though it doesn’t explicitly call for churches to drop all ties with the organization.
While some action against the Scouts was widely anticipated, given the denomination’s very public opposition to the change, the resolution takes a softer tone than many had expected.
It also calls on the Boy Scouts to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor troops.
It passed overwhelmingly, but not unanimously, by the nation’s largest Protestant denomination at its annual meeting in Houston.
Before the vote, Charlie Dale, pastor of Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Pelham, Ala., said the resolution “is not going to help the cause of Christ.”
Of boys who say they are gay, he said, “Let’s bring them in, show them what real biblical manhood is about and love them.”