Islamist TV host resigns after threatening to kill civilians in secular Istanbul neighborhoods
A presenter for the Islamic conservative Akit TV has resigned from his post and is facing criminal charges after speaking about “killing civilians” in secular neighborhoods of Istanbul.
“It is unacceptable and unexplainable. This is openly psychotic. A prosecutor’s office has initiated a criminal investigation into this individual who has made these comments. It is a provocation,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal said on Feb. 28.
Referring to claims the Turkish military was killing civilians in its “Operation Olive Branch” in the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin, Keser on Feb. 27 said: “If we [Turks] were to kill civilians, we would have started in Cihangir, Nişantaşı and Etiler, wouldn’t we?”
“There are many traitors. There is the Turkish Parliament, too,” he added.
His comments soon after drew public outrage, with an Istanbul prosecutor filing an investigation into Keser on Feb. 27 on charges of “inciting hatred and animosity in public,” “provocation” and “defamation.”
Ünal said such rhetoric was “an open sabotage against Turkey’s unity which we [the AKP] would never accept or approve.”
“Who gave you the right to say such things? What do you mean you would start there? Who are you?” the AKP spokesperson said.
Following the criticisms, Akit TV announced Keser’s resignation and said his words “did not represent the channel’s views.”
“Our presenter Ahmet Keser’s words, which crossed the line after he tried to rightfully say that Turkish soldiers were not killing civilians, are not accepted by our channel. Keser has resigned from his post in order to prevent people using his words as an excuse to attack this institution,” Akit TV said in a statement on Feb. 28.