Barça star Turan lashes out at criticism as social media battle on Turkish constitution heats up
ISTANBULTurkish international football star Arda Turan shared a lengthy Instagram post early on Jan. 27, lashing out at reactions that poured against him after he participated in a celebrity social media campaign encouraging people to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments.
Having initially appeared as a fervent backer of the amendments introducing a presidential system prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), due to be voted on in a referendum in April, Barcelona midfielder Turan retook to social media to share a post answering his critics.
“I know it’s a bit late now but there are things I want to say,” Turan wrote to his 6.2 million Instagram followers.
In his latest message he said the video message released on Jan. 25 simply expressed his opinion, which is “a basic and required condition of democracy,” and complained that he was subjected to accusations targeting his “love for Atatürk and for his country.”
“It is nobody’s business to question and judge my love for this country and for Atatürk with baseless accusations,” said Turan.
“I have patience for all criticism but not for insults against my love of my country and my love of the flag,” he added.
In the original video, Turan was recorded as responding to former football player and coach Rıdvan Dilmen’s call asking whether he is “in” for the charter amendments.
“Our country is going through a very tough period. It is just like the War of Independence. We want a strong Turkey. For a strong Turkey, I am in for ‘yes,’” said Dilmen, seeking support from Turan.
In response, Turan said “Coach Rıdvan, I have received your call. For a strong Turkey, I am in as well.”
The video drew further videos in response and messages from celebrities and ordinary citizens, with some expressing their approval of the new amendments and some sharply objecting to them.
On the “no” side of the social media battle, former national basketball player Mehmet Okur, who starred for NBA’s Utah Jazz, released a video on Jan. 27 also on his Instagram account. Sitting alongside with wife Yeliz Okur, the NBA star said: “You may love me or not love me. You may respect my opinion or not respect my opinion! Our purpose is not to be opposition to anyone! Our purpose is not political at all. For a brighter Turkey: #NO.”
Meanwhile a group of Fenerbahçe fans on Jan. 26 staged out a protest against Dilmen, who was the initiator of the video that kindled the social media fire, during the Euroleague basketball game against rival Galatasaray.
The fans carried posters of Dilmen, who was a legendary player for Fenerbahçe’s football team, reading: “We commemorate... 1962-2017” suggesting they had lost their respect for him.