Opposition parties condemn Erdoğan for targeting comedians
“We do not accept what’s being done to Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen. Everyone has the right to criticize [the president]. On a television program, they criticized me even more. But despite this I’m not criticizing them for that. Of course, if they see me making a mistake, they should criticize this.” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a parliamentary meeting on Dec. 25, adding that Erdoğan “cannot tolerate the slightest criticism.”
Turkish prosecutors on Dec. 23 launched an investigation into Akpınar and Gezen, both veteran actors in their 70s, for comments they made on a live TV program.
Kılıçdaroğlu said Erdoğan was displaying attitude similar to that of Kenan Evren’s, who had become president after leading a bloody military coup in 1980, in detaining intellectuals.
“The constitution urges you to be neutral. Are you neutral? You have to tolerate criticism,” he added.
“A president should not point his country’s journalists and artists as targets. A president should not breach the legal system by saying ‘Look, they are now being brought to account by the judiciary,’ just five hours before the prosecutor’s investigation,” she said.
“A president should unite the nation,” she added.
The two prominent actors were probed over their comments on “fascism,” after Erdoğan publicly complained that he was the target of their “death threat.”
Akpınar and Gezen were hosted by journalist Uğur Dündar on his program on broadcaster Halk TV on Dec. 21.
“I believe that the only solution for us to get rid of this polarization and fights is democracy. If we can’t reach that point, then perhaps the leader will be hanged from his feet like it happened in all other fascisms of the past, or he will be poisoned in a dungeon or live the end of all the other [similar] leaders, but it will be ultimately our own destruction,” Akpınar had said on the program.
He had added that all Turkish leaders who “turned toward Russia” in the past were ousted by the military, naming former prime ministers Adnan Menderes and Süleyman Demirel as examples.
Gezen, on the other hand, had directly criticized Erdoğan during the program. “He is rebuking everyone, he is pointing his finger at everybody, he tells people ‘to know your limits.’ Look, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, you cannot test our patriotism. You should know your limit,” he had said.
In return, Erdoğan strongly criticized the two actors during a public speech on Dec. 23. “They say they will take me to the gallows. These are so-called artists. You think you can hang the president of this country? Now go and pay the price at the judiciary,” he said.