A theater academy founded by thespian Müjdat Gezen was set alight early on Feb. 20 in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district.
Police and fire department teams were dispatched to the scene of the Müjdat Gezen Arts Center after the attack, which caused damage to the building. Extensive security measures were taken after the incident, while the fire was extinguished in a short period of time.
Police found a bottle in the garden of the theater academy and plastic gloves in the dustbin.
Police then examined the security footage at the entrance of the building and observed a man pouring gasoline, before setting the building alight. Police also obtained footage from security cameras around the building.
An investigation has been launched into the incident.
Visiting the center after the attack, Gezen described the attack as “a terrorist crime.”
“Anti-terror police investigated the footage. This is a terror crime,” Gezen told journalists on Feb. 20, adding that the center was “the world’s first and only free of charge private school.”
“The fires and flames cannot extinguish the flames inside us. We have the fire of the Republic and [the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk
inside us. That doesn’t change. If you watch the footage, you’ll see why the center didn’t get burnt and who the savior of it is. You’ll love that footage. You’ll clearly see the Atatürk
silhouette in bronze in between the flames. The wooden pieces outside the school were burned. However, the savior of the school stopped the assailant. Nothing happened to our school and the classes are continuing as usual,” he said.
Gezen also slammed Turkish daily Yeni Akit for “targeting him.”
“I asked for protection two or three years ago when they did the same thing. The police didn’t provide me with any. After the latest article by Yeni Akit, I received a phone call from the police, asking me if I wanted protection. I accepted the offer for the academy and my house,” he said.
Yeni Akit drew widespread criticism regarding its report on the attack, as the paper wrote “Huge shock to pimp Gezen” on its Twitter account.
Meanwhile, a number of artists paid visits to the center after the attack, while the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) released a statement regarding the incident.
“I condemn this shameful attack and extend wishes for a speedy recovery to all art-lovers,” Kılıçdaroğlu wrote on his Twitter account on Feb. 20.