Don't let them kiss your hands, Turkish PM instructs officials

Don't let them kiss your hands, Turkish PM instructs officials

Dont let them kiss your hands, Turkish PM instructs officials

MHP leader Bahçeli was criticized for letting a senior citizen kiss his hand in the southern province of Adana earlier this year

Turkish authorities will no longer be allowed to let citizens kiss their hands, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has ordered, in response to criticism of Turkey's nationalist opposition, but violated his own instruction soon afterward.

While speaking at the provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Nov. 29, Davutoğlu emphasized the importance of staying in touch with the man in the street. "As Prime Minister, I say it as an instruction for all state officials: Nobody will let a citizen kiss [his or her] hand anymore," he said.

Kissing the hand of an elder or an esteemed figure before putting the hand to the forehead is a gesture of respect in Turkish culture.

A man approached Davutoğlu to congratulate soon after the speech and kissed his hand at an apparent moment of inattentiveness for the Turkish PM's part.

Davutoğlu's call was a response to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli, who opposed the government's latest initiative for social and political reconcialiation about the 1937-1938 massacre in the eastern province of Tunceli. Labelling the events before the massacre as a rebellion, Bahçeli had slammed Davutoğlu’s recent visit to Tunceli as "treason," arguing that "the state never kisses hands."

One day after Bahçeli cut his own Tunceli visit short upon protests, Davutoğlu touched upon the issue, saying that "the state never forces the nation to kiss its hand."

Turkish PM also described the state's conduct before the massacres in the province, historically known as Dersim, as "oppression."

"In the name of protecting the state, Bahçeli is actually owning the actions of the one-party era government that oppressed people by using the state," Davutoğlu added.

Bahçeli was prompted to pay the contentious visit following a challenge by Davutoğlu who had challenged him to go to Tunceli “if he had the courage to do so.” 

"We told him to go to Tunceli and he did it. Good that he listens to us," Turkish PM jokingly said to open a new challenge. "Go on, now we're waiting for you to go Hakkari, to Van, to Bitlis, to Bingöl," he added, referring to other eastern provinces where the MHP traditionally attracts few votes.