On 31 March 2010, a group hoping to stop the demolition and preserve the cinema launched a petition and started a Facebook group in an effort to attract international media and elite attention. Over the coming months, the Facebook page attracted over 10,000 members, and they gathered 6,850 signatures from prominent international filmmakers, directors and actors. Campaigners held a series of three smaller peaceful rallies over the following year.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was first inaugurated as prime minister of Turkey in 2003 and enjoyed wide popular support, contributing to successive elections as prime minister. Erdogan gathered 47% of the vote in 2007, and he came into office in 2011 with 49.95% of the popular vote. However, public dissent began to rise against the increasingly authoritarian and anti-secular Turkish government. The government passed education bills reinforcing Islamism in high schools and elementary schools in 2012, and the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned on college grounds in 2013.
In 2001, in a southern Turkish village near Siirt, the water lines connecting to the public water supply broke down. This was not the first time that the 27-year-old system had malfunctioned and left the 600-person village without running water for a period of months. Women in the village were obligated to walk to a small public fountain in order to collect water to carry home—a distance of several miles, in some cases—in order to have water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.