In her red cotton summer dress and necklace, white bag slung over her shoulder, she might have been floating across the lawn at a garden party. But behind her crouches a masked policeman firing noxious tear gas spray that sends her curly hair billowing upwards. Endlessly shared on social media and recreated as artwork on posters and stickers, the image of the woman in red has become the leitmotif for female protesters during days of violent anti-government riots in Istanbul.
Iconic: The woman in red turns as the policeman showers her in pepper spray at close range
This is what democracy looks like: This combination of photos shows how the unknown woman first faces off with the massed ranks of riot police before one steps forward to spray the gas right into her face
Standing up for her rights: The brave woman is forced to retreat coughing and spluttering as the gas-wielding riot policeman goes on to spray the crowds of demonstrators behind her, leaving them in agony. It has thrust Turkish academic Ceyda Sungar into the limelight but she says her experience is typical of people in her country who fight for their rights. Ms Sungar, an academic in city planning at Istanbul Technical University, told Turkish newspaper Radikal: 'Every citizen defending their urban rights, every worker defending their human rights, and every student defending university rights has witnessed the police violence I experience.'
The academic, who part of the Taksim Solidarity Platform protesting against the redevelopment of the park, has since declined further interviews as she is believed to be uncomfortable with her position as the focal point of the movement. But it has become a galvanising force for feloow protestors.
'That photo encapsulates the essence of this protest,' says maths student Esra at Besiktas, near the Bosphorus strait - one of the many centres of this week's protests. 'The violence of the police against peaceful protesters, people just trying to protect themselves and what they value.' In one artist's rendering which has been plastered on walls in Istanbul and elsewhere the woman appears much bigger than the policeman. 'The more you spray the bigger we get', reads the slogan next to it.
Tear gas: Policemen, protected by gas masks, walk through a dense cloud of the noxious substance as they charge protestors
Under fire: Police shoots tear gas at demonstrators near Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office
Conflict: A protestor tries to prevent his friend from reaching a police water cannon during the clashes
Angry scenes: Turkish riot police detain a protester during a rally. More than 2,300 people have been injured and one person killed during four days of fierce clashes
Tensions: Hundreds of protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbul
Dangerous: A demonstrator goes to throw a bottle as fireworks go off behind him and illuminate he street where other protestors have gathered
Divided: A masked man tries to avoid a missile, left, while another protestor is led away by riot police
The U.S. and the European Union as well as human rights groups have expressed concern about the heavy-handed action of Turkish police against protesters.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan branded the protesters on Monday extremists 'living arm in arm with terrorism', a description that seems to sit ill with the image of the woman in red.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has apologised for police violence and was due to meet organisers of the demonstration against plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks on Istanbul's Gezi Park in Taksim Square.
British student Melisa Kenber said she was sprayed with tear gas as she tried to film the demonstrations
But he refuses to talk to unnamed groups he accuses of exploiting anger over police action against the original protest to foment broader violence.
He is in control of the government after Prime Minister Erdogan flew off to a state visit to north Africa on Monday.
Erdogan did not comment on domestic matters at a news conference in Algiers on Tuesday.
Arinc apologised for 'excessive violence' by police against the initial Taksim demonstration, which contrasted sharply with Erdogan's dismissal of the protesters as 'looters' and comments linking some to 'terrorism'.
President Abdullah Gul has also made markedly more restrained comments on the protests.
Pro-government newspapers signalled a softening of Ankara's line today and the Sabeh newspaper's front-page read 'Olive Branch'.
Today thousands of people remained at a makeshift camp at Taksim, which has become a focal point of the demonstrations.
Small tents have appeared, food and face masks are on sale and a library is being created.
British student Melisa Kenber, 19, said she was chased by police wielding tear gas canisters after she filmed the protests.
The Leeds University student from Ripon, North Yorkshire, was visiting family in Istanbul when she became caught up in the protests.
As she started to video the police they yelled, 'No pictures, no pictures,' and ran after her until she reached her car, her eyes streaming from the gas.
Miss Kenber said: 'I go to Istanbul every year but this time I went, before it all kicked off, I had never hear people so frustrated and angry and complain about the government.
'It was like a bomb waiting to go off. The final straw was at Taksim Square.
'There were thousands of people there, listening to bands and talking, it was a really nice atmosphere.
'But just before dawn police arrived with canisters of gas and water bombs.'
Police have arrested 25 people for 'spreading untrue information' on social media and provoking protests.
Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu Agency said today the people were detained in the city of Izmir for allegedly 'inciting the people to enmity and hate.' It said police were still looking for 13 others.
The day after: Women pass damaged windows in Kizilay Square in Ankara, Turkey, the morning after mass protests in the city
Damage: Windows were smashed during the violent clashes between police and anti-government protestors
Tens of thousands of Turks have joined anti-government protests expressing discontent with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 10-year rule.
Turkey's main broadcast media have been criticized for shunning the coverage of police brutality at the protest onset on Friday. Many people turned to social media to keep up to date with the developments.
Erdogan, who has dismissed the protests as demonstrations organized by an extremist fringe, has referred to the social media as "'he worst menace to society.'
Clashes spread overnight to the eastern province of Tunceli, where police fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters who set up barricades and threw stones at them, witnesses said.
Police intervened in a similar way against demonstrators in the capital, Ankara, as well in Hatay province on the Syrian border where a 22-year-old man died after being hit in the head at a rally late on Monday.
The DISK union confederation, including unions in the metalworking, health and energy sectors, was due to stage a walkout on Wednesday, joining another labour confederation in a protest against the government.
Last night, some protestors dressed in more combative gear and sporting face masks as they threw stones, but the large number of very young women in Besiktas and on Taksim Square where the protests began on Friday evening is notable.
Unafraid: A protestor takes a rest during ongoing demonstrations against the government and alleged police brutality
Take cover: A protester ducks down as fireworks explode during continuing anti-government demonstrations that have overwhelmed Turkey
Whose streets? Protesters wear scarves over their faces as demonstrations against the government, police brutality and the destruction of a city park for a development project continue in Istanbul
Carnival atmosphere: The glow of red flares illuminates the scene as protesters stand outside in Istanbul tonight. The brutal response of police has raised concerns from the U.S., the EU and human rights groups
Fervent secularism: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Monday branded the protesters, who have fought street battles with since Friday, extremists 'living arm in arm with terrorism'
On the march: The streets near Taksim Square in Istanbul are filled with tear gas as riot police, dressed in helmets and carrying shield, run towards protesters
Running for safety: Protestors flee from police as they are sprayed with water cannon during the demonstrations
With swimming goggles and flimsy surgical masks against the teargas, light tasselled scarves hanging around their necks, Esra, Hasine and Secil stand apprehensively in the Besiktas district on Monday evening.
They are joined by ever growing numbers of youngsters as dusk falls and the mood grows more sombre.
They belong, as perhaps does the woman in red, to the ranks of young, articulate women who believe they have something to lose in Erdogan's Turkey.
They feel threatened by his promotion of the Islamic headscarf, symbol of female piety.
Many of the women point to new abortion laws as a sign that Erdogan, who has advised Turkish women to each have three children, wants to roll back women's rights and push them into traditional, pious roles.
'I respect women who wear the headscarf, that is their right, but I also want my rights to be protected,' says Esra. 'I'm not a leftist or an anti-capitalist. I want to be a business woman and live in a free Turkey.'
Barricade: Men wearing masks and the Turkish flag sift through bricks and rubble as they set a barricage against police
Confrontation: One man crouches in front of hastily set up barricade and hundreds of masked protestors look on
Coming to a street near you soon: Riot police use water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters in Istanbul. UK police have procured several such weapons to deal with expected protests in London
Street fighting: Crowds of protesters equipped with builders' hard hats and other protective gear battle police
Civil disorder: Tear gas and water fill the air as police attempt to clear protesters on a fifth day of rioting
Retreat and regroup: Demonstrators flee the high-pressure spray of a water cannon in an Istanbul street
A taste of their own medicine: A man hurls a tear gas canister back at police lines during protests in Istanbul
Daring: A brave protester walks towards police lines during a stand-off between demonstrators and police. Erdogan, who has won three successive elections and has a huge parliamentary majority, has been accused of taking an authoritarian turn after initial economic advances and early democratic reform.
Leader: Erdogan, a pious man who denies Islamist ambitions for Turkey, rejects any suggestion he wants to cajole anyone into religious observance
Critics accuse him of pursuing an 'Islamist' agenda by easing restrictions on the wearing of headscarves in state institutions, limiting alcohol sales and promoting broader religious projects.
Erdogan denies any ambition to undermine Turkey's secular constitution.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the secular republic formed in 1923 on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, encouraged women to wear Western clothes rather than headscarves and promoted the image of the professional woman.
Ironically, Erdogan is seen these days as, for better or worse, the most dominant Turkish leader since Ataturk.
After first sweeping to power in in 2002, he remains unrivalled in popularity, drawing on strong support in the conservative Anatolian heartland.
The weekend demonstrations in dozens of cities suggest however his popularity may be dwindling, at least among middle classes who swung behind him in the early years of political and economic reform that cut back the power of the army and introduced some rights amendments.
'Erdogan says 50 percent of the people voted for him. I'm here to show I belong to the other 50 percent, the half of the population whose feelings he showed no respect for, the ones he is trying to crush,' says chemistry student Hasine.
'I want to have a future here in Turkey, a career, a freedom to live my life. But all these are under threat. I want Erdogan to understand,' she adds.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last night said only Turks can solve the problem of anti-government protests sowing unrest in Turkey. But he says the U.S. is concerned and isn't indifferent to the outcome.
Ready for action: A gas mask-clad protester carries a dustbin lid as a shield during clashes with police near Prime Minister Erdogan's office, between Taksim and Besiktas, in the early hours of Tuesday morning
Manning the barricades: Many young Turks are worried about the introduction of new, apparently Islamic-inspired laws brought in by Erdogan, who has strong support in the conservative Anatolian heartland
A man holds a flag bearing the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern, secular Turkey on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 and encouraged the country to throw off its religious traditions
Speaking at at the American-Turkish Council's annual conference, which was attended by one of Turkey's deputy prime ministers, Mr Biden said the U.S. supports free assembly, a free press and non-violence by government and demonstrators.
He added that Turkey mustn't choose between democracy and economic progress.
He also said the U.S. and Turkey sometimes disagree on tactics but share common goals, like a two-state solution in Israel, a non-nuclear Iran and a nonsectarian Syria.
Protesters are coming better prepared now than when the unrest first began.
Some have hard-hats, some are dressed all in black, most wear running shoes. But many are dressed as femininely as the girl in the red dress snapped on Taksim Square.
'Of course I'm nervous and I know I could be in danger here,' said 23 year-old economics student Busra, who says her parents support her protest.
'But for me that is nothing compared to the danger of losing the Turkish Republic, its freedoms and spirit.'
Drenched: A group of young women are hit with a high-pressure spray from a water cannon during demonstrations in Ankara yesterday. The crackdown has left two dead and more than 1,000 injured
Come prepared: Three women shout slogans against the government in Ankara. Around their necks they wear masks to put on in the event that police respond to their demonstration by firing tear gas canisters
Determined: Women shout slogans against the government on a bright sunny day in Istanbul yesterday
A protest in Istanbul, Turkey, that began as a relatively small event earlier in the week, erupted into massive anti-government demonstrations across the country following a harsh crackdown by riot police. People had gathered in Gezi Park to prevent the demolition of the last remaining green public space in the center of Istanbul as part of a major renewal project. Pent-up anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party flared up after the violent breakup of the Gezi Park protest, fueling the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years. Yesterday, more than a thousand protesters were arrested in 90 different demonstrations across Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan has issued several defiant and dismissive messages, urging demonstrators to go home -- which they appear to be ignoring, as thousands have gathered once again in Taksim Square today, starting a third day of protest.
Riot police use tear gas to disperse the a during an anti-government protest in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, Turkey, on May 31, 2013. Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, wounding scores of people and prompting rallies in other cities in the fiercest anti-government protests for years.
People sit, hours before riot police use tear gas and pressurized water to quash a peaceful demonstration by hundreds of people staging a sit-in protest to try and prevent the demolition of trees at an Istanbul park. Police moved in at dawn Friday to disperse the crowd on the fourth day of the protest against a contentious government plan to revamp Istanbul's main square, injuring a number of protesters. The protesters are demanding that the square's park, Gezi, be protected. (AP Photo) #
A Turkish riot policeman sprays tear gas as people protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, on May 28, 2013. (Reuters/Osman Orsal) #
A Turkish riot policeman sprays tear gas as people protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought in Taksim Square in Istanbul, on May 28, 2013. (Reuters/Osman Orsal) #
In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, a man wears a make-shift gas-mask hours before riot police used tear gas and pressurized water to quash a peaceful demonstration by hundreds of people staging a sit-in protest to try and prevent the demolition of trees at an Istanbul park. (AP Photo) #
Protesters clash with Turkish riot policemen on May 31, 2013 during a protest against the demolition of the Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul.(Gurcan Ozturk/AFP/Getty Images) #
Riot police use tear gas to disperse a crowd during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square, on May 31, 2013.(Reuters/Osman Orsal) #
Demonstrators flee from a water cannon during clashes with riot police, on May 31, 2013 during a protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul.(AFP/Getty Images) #
A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas as a demonstrator holds a banner which reads, "Chemical Tayyip", referring to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, during a protest in Taksim Square, on May 31, 2013. (Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
Riot police use tear gas to disperse the crowd during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square, Istanbul, on May 31, 2013.(Reuters/Osman Orsal) #
A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back toward riot police during an anti-government protest in central Istanbul, on May 31, 2013.(Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A demonstrator reacts as riot police use a water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd in Taksim Square, on May 31, 2013.(Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
Riot police fire tear gas canisters in Taksim Square, on May 31, 2013. (Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A man plants a tree in Istiklal street on June 1, 2013, during a protest against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul.(Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images) #
Protesters arrive in Taksim Square on June 1, 2013 after clashing with riot police in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
Supporters of Turkey's Communist Party (TKP) shout slogans during an anti-government protest at Taksim square, on June 1, 2013.(Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A police officer fires tear gas toward protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul, on June 1, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Tear gas spreads among demonstrators in Taksim square, on June 1, 2013. (Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A woman opens her arms as police use a water cannon to disperse protesters on June 1, 2013 during a protest in Istanbul.(Fatih Kece/AFP/Getty Images) #
Tear gas surrounds a protester holding a Turkish flag with a portrait of the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as he takes part in a demonstration in support of protests in Istanbul and against the Turkish Prime Minister and his ruling Justice and Development Party, in Ankara, on June 1, 2013. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman runs past riot police hiding behind their shields during clashes with demonstrators protesting against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party in central Ankara, on June 1, 2013. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
Riot police and security men confront protesters at the city's main Taksim Square, on June 1, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Riot police use tear gas to disperse a crowd during an anti-government protest in Istanbul, on June 1, 2013. (Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A man is struck by a jet of water as riot police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in central Ankara, on June 1, 2013. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
Riot police help a woman affected by tear gas fired during clashes with demonstrators in Ankara, on June 1, 2013.(Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
An injured riot police officer is carried to an ambulance during clashes with demonstrators in Ankara, on June 1, 2013.(Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
Riot police behind shields fire tear gas as they clash with anti-government protesters in Taksim square, on June 1, 2013.(Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
A bleeding protester is assisted as demonstrators clash with riot police on June 1, 2013, in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
A security officer in Istanbul's Taksim Square on June 1, 2013. (AP Photo) #
An injured demonstrator is carried to an ambulance during clashes with riot police in Ankara, on June 1, 2013. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #
An injured man is helped as Turkish protesters clash with riot police near the former Ottoman palace, Dolmabahce, where Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan maintains an office in Istanbul, late Saturday, June 1, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Turkish protesters confront riot police near the former Ottoman palace, Dolmabahce, in Istanbul, on June 1, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Riot police spray a water cannon at Turkish protesters near the former Ottoman palace, Dolmabahce, in Istanbul, on June 1, 2013.(AP Photo) #
Protesters clash with riot police between Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul, late on June 1, 2013. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
A street vendor sells umbrellas in front of destroyed police cars in Taskim square in Istanbul, early on Sunday, June 2, 2013.(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) #
Protesters gather for the third day of nationwide anti-government protest at the Taskim square in Istanbul, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)