POLITICS > The Times Gezi letter a 'hate crime,' says Turkish EU minister

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency

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EU Minister Egemen Bağış has been touring Istanbul's neighborhoods at iftar dinners and sahur meals since the beginning of Ramadan. AA photo

EU Minister Egemen Bağış has been touring Istanbul's neighborhoods at iftar dinners and sahur meals since the beginning of Ramadan. AA photo

The Turkish EU Minister has described an open letter on the Gezi unrest published in The Times as a "hate crime" and a crime against humanity." The letter published in the British daily criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for police violence during the recent wave of protests.

"Some people are bringing up accusations by signing a letter to people who perhaps have never come to Turkey, or only for a holiday. Believe me, [that is] a crime against humanity, a hate crime. Because such serious accusations are unacceptable," Bağış said during a sahur meal organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul's Kadıköy district.

The letter that appeared in the British newspaper included the signatures of Hollywood celebrities such as Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, among other internationally renowned artists and scholars.

Erdoğan also slammed the letter yesterday, arguing that those who signed it had been "deceived" and announcing that he would sue The Times for publishing it.

Bağış also denounced attempts to describe Erdoğan as a "dictator." "Thankfully, there is a democracy in Turkey and three elections ahead of us. There will be a process where those who have a problem with national will or democracy will be able to [express themselves]. It seems to me that some people are seeking to do outside the ballot box what they cannot do at the ballot box," he said.

Meanwhile, comedian Şafak Sezer who was recently criticized on social media for having asked the prime minister for forgiveness after he had given support to the Gezi protest also participated in the meal.

Bağış said he had told Sezer not to worry about the reactions he had got on social media. "I told him: We receive many insulting and cursing messages. Don't let it bring you down. We have become experienced with time," he said.


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Notice on comments

George Atteshli

8/19/2013 11:26:07 AM

@Kaan Girgin: It is quite entertaining to witness a Turk attempting to gain the moral high ground and portray themselves as the benefactors of humanity. Hey Kaan, I would like you to talk to me about the '1915 events' amongst others.

Kaan Girgin

8/4/2013 1:39:59 AM

@Timothy BlackBeard This is EXACTLY why Turkey gets under the nose of the West so much, and "care" for us so much to be "better" (read that as to "be just like them"); Ataturk didn't kick the West out simply to become its puppets or shadow imitations. He said take from the West the good, but keep true to who you are! As someone who protested at Gezi from the start I get offended with the West trying to hijack it because they can't get over their Islamophobia. Brit needs to GET OUT of Turkey IMO!

Kaan Girgin

8/4/2013 1:35:02 AM

@Brit in Turkey And YOU show your "real face" last! And all those countries you list the genocide of the natives in America and Australia, New Zealand, the mutiny put down in India akin to genocide, the way you doped China on opium simply to steal their tea and stole Hong Kong as a result - the only thing "great" about the British Empire is that it is OVER! @Timothy BlackBeard I agree with you, and have said this elsewhere on DN but goof 2 know others know it too. Thanks!

Brit in Turkey

8/2/2013 6:25:02 PM

Timothy BlackBeard: The British Empire was not 'great' It was great. Unless you count America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Cong, India et al as being insignificant countries.

Timothy BlackBeard

8/2/2013 1:31:50 PM

@Kaan Girgin, you can also add to that (msg to @Chris Green), that Turks are the only nation in the history of the 'great' British Empire to NOT bow to the British (in fact allied) attempt to invade, colonize and add us to their collection of colonies and their 'Commonwealth' map. Through Gallipoli, Turks also inspired the Irish to stand up against the British Empire - during the 'Potato Famine', shortly after Queen Victoria rebuffed The Ottoman Turks for sending 3 ships of aid to the Irish.

Kaan Girgin

7/31/2013 12:20:43 AM

@Rimon Tree using alcohol as though it is a Islamic thing (or because of the strict alcohol laws that are similar to the USA) are not funny. America went through prohibition, and there are still very conservative Christian groups that frown on alcohol JUST as much as Muslims, it is not an issue to beat the AKP with. Criticise them for their political policies by all means, but the religious persuasion is there own choice - and the choice of 90% of Turkey (even the protesters).

Kaan Girgin

7/31/2013 12:16:49 AM

@mara mcglothin "One man's hate crime is what another calls freedom of speech?" Where were you when Hitler needed a PR person? You'd have been perfect. Or is it we only allow hate speech against certain races the USA deems acceptable to demonise?

Brit in Turkey

7/30/2013 5:38:28 PM

Chris: Couldn't find it on your web site.

Kaan Girgin

7/30/2013 3:55:06 PM

@Chris Green The Goeben Incident is what made old Churchill anti-Turk and try to carve up dead Ottoman Empire but then some guy called Ataturk put a stop to that with the help of almost every descendent that loves this country. Do you know after the Gallipoli campaign. Turks are the only "enemy" combatants allowed to march on Anzanc Day because they have been termed honourable for their actions at the time by the Victorian RSL? While the Brits called Johnny Turk cannibals! Google it!

mara mcglothin

7/30/2013 2:42:18 PM

One man's hate crime is what another calls freedom of speech.
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