Anti-vaxxers’ rally attempt stirs debate
An attempt to organize a rally later this week in Istanbul by Turkey’s anti-vaxxers has faced a strong backlash from experts who label the event as “a daring challenge to public health.”
Organizers dub the event “Great Awakening,” which is scheduled for Sept. 11 in Istanbul’s Maltepe district, and they have been running a campaign for the rally on social media for some time.
The district governor’s office in Maltepe, however, has said that the application for the event, filed by the small Anatolian Unity Party (Anadolu Birliği Partisi), was rejected, on the ground that the rally would increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Organizers had previously claimed their request was approved.
“An infectious disease and its treatment cannot be the subject of a demonstration. This is absolute nonsense. Moreover, the vaccination is not mandatory in Turkey. People surely have the right to assemble and demonstrate, but there is no such freedom as putting public health at risk,” Professor Haluk Eraksoy from Istanbul Medical School told daily Milliyet.
Such a rally mounts to an attempt against public health particularly at a time when vaccination rates have not yet reached desired levels, according to Professor Bengi Başer, a cardiologist.
“Anti-vaxxers try to get fake vaccine cards and fake PCR test reports, and this only reveals the real mindset of this group of people,” Başer said.
Actions by anti-vaxxers do nothing but harm public health, said Osman Öztürk, from the Istanbul Chamber of the Medical Association.
He also noted that some doctors are disseminating false information regarding the vaccines only to market their own expensive products. “As the association, we are fighting against those charlatans; we also expect the Health Ministry to open investigations,” Öztürk said.