‘Come on blonde,’ Ankara Mayor challenges US spokesperson
ISTANBULThe mayor of Turkey’s capital has challenged a U.S. State Department spokesperson by referring to a pro-government media report that slammed her as “stupid blonde.”
“Come on blonde, answer now,” Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek said in a tweet early April 29. The tweet also included an image from the recent riots in Baltimore, as well as the photo of Marie Harf and a caption that reads: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?”
Gökçek was referring to a report on Ensonhaber.com, a staunchly pro-government online news website. “U.S. police displayed a harsh attitude against the activists in Baltimore. But U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who had been repeatedly criticizing Turkey during the Gezi incidents, is now silent,” it said.
Meanwhile, Harf April 29 commented on Gökçek’s tweets in the State Department’s Daily Briefing.
“I really don’t think I’m going to dignify them with a response,” said Harf, adding that President Barack Obama spoke April 28 of soul-searching about the situation in Baltimore as well as other officials and that they would carry out an investigation.
“And I would note that the president didn’t just talk about the specific incident and the investigation, but really about the fact that we have to do some soul-searching here, and spoke, I think, very deeply and personally about an issue that is clearly one that people feel very passionately about,” said Harf stressing that the United States would transparently and openly address challenges whether they are at home or abroad.
Many national and international organizations had criticized Turkish police officers for using disproportionate force during the massive Gezi Park protests in 2013.
Gökçek, a veteran politician from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), also slammed CNN International and the Economist for the same reason in separate tweets.
As it generally happens, hundreds among his more than 2.5 million followers joined Gökçek’s online campaign which targeted Harf and the international media on April 29.
Gökçek has been a polarizing figure, most recently by being accused by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç of corruption and stirring another debate by erecting a giant robot statue near Turkey’s new presidential palace in the capital city.