- Protestors are angry over far-reaching government powers to block web pages ‘within hours’
- The demonstrators threw stones and set off fireworks after riot police fired water cannons
- Prime Minister says new powers have been introduced to protect privacy, not stifle criticism
By Sam Webb
UPDATED: 13:46 EST, 9 February 2014
Police fired water cannon and teargas to disperse thousands of people protesting in central Istanbul yesterday against new controls on the internet approved by parliament this week.
The new powers, once approved by the president, will let authorities block web pages within hours, in what the opposition has said is part of a government bid to stifle discussion of a corruption scandal.
Riot police advanced along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue behind armoured vehicles firing water cannon at protesters, some of whom waved flags and held up placards.
Some demonstrators responded by throwing stones or setting off fireworks aimed at police before scattering into side streets.
‘Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption,’ some chanted, in a variation of an anti-government slogan used by demonstrators in protests across the country last summer.
The government says the internet reform, sent to parliament before the graft inquiry became public late last year but broadened in recent weeks, is aimed at protecting individual privacy and not gagging its critics.
Anger: Turkish riot police take cover behind their shields as fireworks explode in front of them during clashes with anti-government protestors
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