Re: "the worst menace to society"
The article forgets a few things - perhaps these, largely secular, protesters realize that since Erdogan has deliberately weakened the army, the likely hood of another military coup is also lessened, so they feel the need to take their grievances outside for themselves.
Turkeys major cities are not lacking shopping malls in any way shape or form – this square is not only a decent green-space which people enjoy using, but, the way the government sees it, it is a place for people to meet, en-mass, and vocalize their feelings. That is exactly why the government wants to get rid of it.
About a year ago during several chats with regular Turkish folk on the BBC World Service, it was clearly stated that increasingly one had to 'adopt' Islam in order to have at least a chance of being successful in job interviews. IIRC the broadcasts were on the subject of Turkey joining Europe.
'Menace to society' – especially when that society is becoming more and more theocratic, yes, in that case free speech is a real menace to religious dogma. But that's not the case in a secular society where religion of all kinds tolerate each others reason d'etre and atheism is not seen as a threat but just another way of describing an individuals need, or lack thereof, for spiritualism.
'Menace to society' – yes, when you (the government) have expended time/money on blocking out internet content and access that does not conform your political diktat.
Let us not forget the sincerest actions of many young secular Egyptians who only wished for a broader, more liberal, and all-encompassing state for their children to live in. Pretty much the same is going on in Turkey right now and I wish them all the luck they need to change things there – there are elections next year, that is going to be an interesting spectacle.
Ok, Erdogan got a majority vote, (twice?) but that should not give him the right eradicate opposition. His party will probably cave in internally as politicians re-align themselves any way.
Democracy does not need religion in any way shape or form. Separate state from religion globally and most of the worlds problems are solved. Democracy needs pluralism, tolerance and acceptance. Democracy needs education and involvement and to encourage participation in debate. Talking is better than rocks and tear gas – always.