Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has said those who have taken to the streets in protest at corruption and graft allegations are “atheists and terrorists,” speaking at a rally in the western province of Balıkesir.
“We opened a boulevard in Ankara
on Monday [Feb. 24] despite the [protests of] leftists, despite those atheists. They are terrorists, but the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP
is calling them ‘our youth,’” said Erdoğan at the Feb. 28 rally.
Erdoğan described the probe as a plot against his government, orchestrated by the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has been residing in the United States for the past 15 years.
In the Balıkesir rally, Erdoğan also criticized Gülen for allegedly telling female students to remove their headscarves in order to be able to attend schools during the Feb. 28, 1997, post-modern coup attempt.
“He [Gülen] was saying you may not wear headscarves. Why do you [Gülen] get involved? Because he does not have any children,” he said, referring to the fact that Gülen is unmarried and has no children.
The prime minister had previously criticized the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli for not having any children or family.
Addressing the Balıkesir crowds, Erdoğan also once again called on people not to send their children to private prep schools, a considerable number of which are run by people close to the Gülen movement.