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.
On 2 September 2012, about sixty Kurds, an Iranic people native to Southwest Asia, that were in Turkish prisons began a hunger strike. These prisoners began this campaign out of a demand to free Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, one of the founding members of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant organization in Turkey. Mr. Ocalan was serving a life sentence and kept in solitary confinement in a prison on an island near Istanbul.
Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, Turkey has technically been a secular democracy. Despite this, it has experienced numerous coups and the government has at times proven itself to be highly corrupt.