ANKARA/ISTANBUL - Protesters demanding Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan resign over a high-level corruption scandal clashed with riot police in Istanbul on Friday, while across the city thousands staged a rival show of support for the embattled leader.
Around Taksim Square, center of anti-government demonstrations last summer, police fired tear gas and used water cannon against hundreds of protesters chanting "There are thieves".
Erdogan faces a crisis unprecedented during his 11 years in office due to the scandal that has forced three ministers' resignations and a cabinet reshuffle, as well as destabilizing the Turkish economy whose rapid growth has been a showpiece of his rule.
However, Erdogan still enjoys the loyalty of many pious Muslims and members of Turkey's wealthy elite. While police tried to prevent anti-Erdogan crowds from forming on Taksim, cheering supporters of the ruling AK Party welcomed him at Istanbul airport about 20 km (14 miles) away, waving party and national flags when he returned from a trip to the provinces.