Erdoğan sues CHP head for golden toilet claim
AA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has taken the country’s main opposition leader to court over claiming that his vast palace had gold-plated toilet seats, as he argued that by such “slander and lies,” the opposition leader had crossed the limits of freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression and the right to criticize can never be used as a tool to violate the honor and reputation of people which is secured by international texts, the constitution and laws, Erdoğan’s lawyer, Muammer Cemaloğlu, said in a petition filed to court on June 2.
While seeking 100,000 Turkish Liras in compensation for non-pecuniary damages stemming from the “slander and lies” from Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdoğan’s lawyer also appealed to the Ankara Civil Court of First Instance to order surveillance at the palace in order to prove the inaccuracy of Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement.
The heated quarrel was sparked when Kılıçdaroğlu raised the issue during an election rally held in Ankara on May 31, as he pledged welfare to people if he came to power in the June 7 elections.
“I’m calling on my citizens who voted for the ruling party in the past: I don’t think like them, I’m not eager for a palace, I’m not eager for a golden toilet seat, I’m not eager to hit the jackpot; I work only and only for this country’s beautiful people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Later in the same day, during an interview on public broadcaster TRT, Erdoğan called on the CHP leader to visit his presidential palace to see whether there was any golden toilet seat.
The controversy extended to June 1, as Erdoğan reiterated his challenge to Kılıçdaroğlu during an address delivered to the public in the eastern Anatolian province of Iğdır, calling on the CHP head to resign if he could not find a golden toilet seat in the palace.
Meanwhile, his secretary-general has already extended a written invitation to Kılıçdaroğlu to visit the palace. Kılıçdaroğlu swiftly refused to set foot in Erdoğan’s palace – which opposition parties and some nongovernmental organizations say was constructed on protected land despite court rulings – and has boycotted events there since it was inaugurated last year.
Later on June 1, the quarrel plumbed new depths, after Erdoğan questioned how his political rival knew about the toilets of the presidential palace.
“Hey Kılıçdaroğlu, since when have you been visiting the toilets of the Beştepe Külliye [presidential palace]? Did you clean them and that’s how you learned that there were golden toilets seats?” Erdoğan asked during an address to the public in the eastern Anatolian province of Erzurum.
Erdoğan prefers his gargantuan presidential palace to be called the “Presidential Külliye,” an Ottoman architectural concept that designates a complex with a central mosque and a series of ancillary buildings, such as a hospital, library and public fountain, surrounding it.
The CHP head replied to Erdoğan’s questions during an interview on private broadcaster CNNTürk late on June 1, simply saying: “I kiss the eyes of those toilet cleaners, those laborers who provide for their children. This answer is enough.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also indicated that his remarks about gold-plated toilet seats were a reference to a provincial governor who in late May made headlines with an alleged gold-plated toilet seat in his bathroom. The governor later denied the claim, saying the toilet seat and bathroom accessories were actually made of chrome in a golden yellow color.
“Photographs of gold-plated toilet seat were in newspapers. If a public servant is having a gold-plated toilet seat during the term of this ruling party, am I responsible for this? Will I not call him to account for it? I didn’t say ‘palace,’ or this and that. But I said something clearly: If gentlemen in Ankara are getting gold-plated toilet seats done, somebody in this country should think about this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“The mister took it personally,” he added, referring to Erdoğan.