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Turkish Government Alternates Olive Branch with Iron Fist

Kazuhiro Ibuki - Pool/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- The Turkish government sent mixed signals on Wednesday as civil unrest continued over growing fears of authoritarianism in the secular Muslim country.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his interior minister that he wanted to end the protests in Istanbul's Gezi Park within 24 hours.

The planned redevelopment of the park is what fueled the unrest that started with riot police using tear gas and water cannons against protesters on May 31.  Since then, complaints against Erdogan have escalated, with demonstrations spreading throughout Turkey.

Even as Erdogan has taken a hard stance with demonstrators, his ruling AK party suggested on Wednesday that there could be a referendum on the Gezi Park redevelopment plans, which the government hopes will placate its opponents.

Meanwhile, the prime minister went ahead and held talks with a group of 11 activists, although the leaders of the demonstrations, including the group Taksim Solidarity, scoffed at the gesture, saying Erdogan spoke with those who don't represent the majority.

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