Main opposition CHP refutes Turkish PM’s claims over Prophet cartoons
A group of people hold a protest against the daily Cumhuriyet’s reprinting of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in front of Yeni Camii in Istanbul’s Eminönü. AA PhotoThe main opposition party has strongly reacted to the prime minister, who argued that the social democrat party was defending a Turkish daily’s decision to reprint cartoons featuring Prophet Muhammad, and accused him of exploiting religion for politics.
“His statements that depict the Republican People’s Party [CHP] as defending the cartoons featuring the prophet are ignominious and sordid lies. We have said one hundred, one thousand times, that politics requires convincing. We said ‘Faith and sacredness within these frames are private spaces; they are undisputable and everyone must respect this,’” CHP spokesperson Haluk Koç told reporters Jan. 18 in reaction to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s accusations.
In his address to the his party’s convention in Tekirdağ, Davutoğlu strongly slammed the CHP for backing daily Cumhuriyet (Republic, in English) for publishing the cover cartoon of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and claimed the party lost its “republican” values.” “This is the AK Party [ruling Justice and Development Party] that best represents the republican values,” he said.
“The Republican People’s Party’s republicanism is not about the people, may be about a newspaper, Cumhuriyet. When this newspaper reprinted these cartoons insulting our prophet, it was not the people but [CHP head Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu who was there to defend it. Kılıçdaroğlu stood behind these insults,” Davutoğlu said.
Koç recalled that Kılıçdaroğlu openly expressed insults against a faith or religion cannot be acceptable and everybody needs to be careful in order to not hurt sacred feelings, while he also accused the prime minister of lying. “All these ignominious, poor offensives of yours are signs of your exhaustion. Being comic is also a talent, an art. You even cannot do it,” Koç said.
“Do you hear only things that you want to hear, Mr. Ahmet? Do you have such a sickness? Is politics that cheap on your side?” he asked. Koç reiterated that the CHP’s stance was the assurance of both freedom of the press and freedom of religion.