Turkish police 'thank' shopkeepers for beating May Day activists
ISTANBULLocal shopkeepers who beat a group of May Day activists in Istanbul have said that the police thanked them for their vigilant action.
"We are Muslims and they are terrorists," one shopkeeper told daily Hürriyet on May 2.
Footage showing a group of men while attacking another group with clubs in the Fulya neighborhood of Istanbul on May 1 stirred debate on social media. Police had earlier prevented the attacked group from marching to Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square for May Day demonstrations.
Several social media users claimed late May 1 that the attackers were local shopkeepers, reminding of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statement that bestowed a “volunteer mission” on tradesmen throughout Turkey to act as law enforcement officers and judges if necessary.
The shopkeepers who dispersed May Day activists by force were indeed local shopkeepers, daily Hürriyet has revealed.
"When police used tear gas, two of them entered our store. They started to argue with other employees. One of them brandished a stone from his pocket and threatened us," 50-year-old Hayri Öztürk, a car mechanic, said.
35-year-old Turgay Korkmaz, a car seller, defended that the shopkeepers did not initially use clubs. "They started to pelt the police with stone. When I twisted one activist's arm and took away the stone, they crossed the road and took flagstaffs before returning to attack us. I took away their flagstaff, too," he said.
"A brawl broke out. I caught of one of the activists, while the other one ran away. Police thanked me. We are Muslims and they are terrorists," Korkmaz added.
28-year-old Gökhan İşler, an employee of Korkmaz, said that they received hundreds of threats after the incident, noting that they would file criminal complaints.
“In our civilization, in our national and civilizational spirit, tradesmen and artisans are soldiers when needed,” Erdoğan said on Nov. 26, 2014, in a speech delivered to the 4th Council of Tradesmen and Artisans in Ankara.