Celebrities’ visit to soldiers continues to roil waters between CHP, AKP
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu harshened his tone against the celebrities who accompanied President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his visit to a military outpost in neighboring Hatay on April 1.
“I defend every word I said. In fact, I didn’t say enough,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters on April 5.
His comments came after a group of celebrities visited soldiers along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government officials in the border province of Hatay, stationed there as part of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Afrin. CHP officials have criticized the celebrities for joining the “political propaganda” of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), saying the government is using the military operation in Afrin for its own political purposes.
Speaking during the CHP’s weekly parliamentary party group meeting on April 3 in Ankara, Kılıçdaroğlu struck an angry note.
“Fifty-two of our soldiers died in Afrin and hundreds were wounded … I wonder if these lowlife celebrities and the person who brought them there have the courage to sing songs in front of the home of the family of an Afrin martyr,” he said.
The celebrities responded by condemning Kılıçdaroğlu in a written statement, saying they intended to give “moral support” to soldiers “who have lost their friends while battling against terrorist organizations in Afrin.”
“We have difficulty understanding why the leader of a party founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was uncomfortable with such a visit,” they stated.
“As artists who are proud of being together with our army and nation, we denounce Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu’s libelous statements,” they said, adding that they will file a legal complaint about the CHP leader.
President’s spokesperson speaks out
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also responded to Kılıçdaroğlu at a press conference on April 5, saying the performers “gave moral support to soldiers.”
“Our artists did the right thing, giving moral support to soldiers. We will continue to support our soldiers and police. They did that with sensitivity of artists,” Kalın said.
“To use this as material for a political polemic only shows the misery of the political style of the main opposition leader,” he added.