Turkish man protests alcohol sale restrictions in unusual demo
“Shopkeepers and the army are hand in hand,” the banner says. DHA photo/Mustafa KozanInfuriated by the Turkish government’s ban on sale of alcoholic drinks after 10 p.m., a former liquor store owner in the southern province of Antalya has made a call to the army –but could only find a statue to support his cause.
“I am victimized and I am staging this protest to keep others from victimization,” 34-year-old Mustafa Ertem told Doğan News Agency during his demonstation on Aug. 3, stressing that he went bankrupt due to a hefty fine for selling drinks after the law’s daily cutoff time.
On May 24, 2013, Turkish Parliament adopted a highly controversial alcohol bill proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), tightening restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.
Retailers in Turkey are no longer allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Now I am protesting it with this statue,” Ertem said on Aug. 3, pointing to the statue of the Pergamon King Attalos I in Antalya’s historic Kalekapısı district.
“People are now in fear. When three people come together, they worry whether a bomb may explode or they may be profiled by police or something bad may happen to them. A lot of people are victimized by the ban on alcoholic beverage sales, but they are afraid of staging protests,” he added.
Although Ertem claimed that he was left alone by people merely out of fear for peaceful protests, the banner that he was holding with King Attalos could be another reason. “Shopkeepers and the army are hand in hand,” the banner says, a remark that could be perceived as a call for a military coup, which was subjected to criminal investigations in the past.
The unusual protest came on a day that both alcoholic beverages and military officers featured in Turkish media’s headlines.
On Aug. 3, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli started a new fight with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), criticizing the “dishonorable, whisky-drinking rich people” who voted for the HDP instead of the MHP.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) convened for its regular annual meeting to discuss appointments and retirements of high-ranking staff officers and generals in the Turkish Armed Forces, as well as for the removal of military personnel from the army.