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Turkey allows passive protests

A man read during a silent antigovernment protest held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Wednesday.

Burak Kara/Getty Images

A man read during a silent antigovernment protest held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Wednesday.

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s deputy prime minister gave a nod of approval Wednesday to a new form of peaceful resistance that is spreading through Turkey.

Although police dispersed pockets of protesters who set up barricades in two Turkish cities overnight Tuesday, the sometimes violent antigovernment demonstrations have largely given way to a passive form of resistance, with people standing motionless.

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Hundreds of demonstrators stood still for hours in squares on main streets in several cities, mimicking a lone protester, dubbed the “standing man,” who started the trend Monday in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

In the first direct government comment on the new style of protest, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters that such standing protests are peaceful and ‘‘pleasing to the eye.’’ However, he also urged demonstrators to avoid obstructing traffic and endangering their own health.

‘‘This is not an act of violence,’’ Arinc said. ‘‘We cannot condemn it.’’

Hasan Kilic of the Istanbul Bar Association, however, said as many as 68 people who have taken part in the widespread protests were in custody for alleged links to ‘‘terror’’ groups, while 33 people were being questioned by authorities and faced possible organized crime charges.

More than 3,000 people have been detained then released since the antigovernment demonstrations began late last month, said the Human Rights Association.

Police dispersed hundreds of standing protesters at Taksim Square Monday night, but are now allowing such demonstrations to continue unhindered.

But not everyone is in favor of them.

Eight people wearing T-shirts that read ‘‘man standing against the standing man’’ stood in front of ‘‘standing man’’ protesters Wednesday in an apparent progovernment demonstration.

Turkey’s widespread antigovernment protests erupted across the country on May 31, when riot police brutally cracked down on peaceful environmental activists who opposed plans to remove trees and develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square.

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