Turkish Deputy PM claims Gezi protesters kissed at Istanbul mosque where they took refuge
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ is seen during the budget debate at the Parliament. AA photoDeputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ criticized Gezi Park protesters Dec. 12 for allegedly kissing when they took refuge at a mosque during a police crackdown on demonstrators in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş neighborhood between May 31 and June 3.
Speaking during a debate at the General Assembly on matters relating to the Directorate General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Bozdağ has maintained once again that protesters consumed alcohol inside the Dolmabahçe Mosque, as previously asserted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, further claiming that protesters had kissed.
“[On the subject of] groups littered [the grounds of the Dolmabahçe mosque] with their cigarette ash, left beer cans, got drunk and kissed… I would have expected a sentence that said ‘this is shameless, this is disrespectful of this mosque, this temple, the values of this nation’,” Bozdağ said, addressing opposition deputies.
“Mosques in this country have never been exposed to such vulgarity and disrespect. Our religious values had never been trampled in this way before,” Bozdağ said.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Chair, Muharrem İnce, strongly reacted to Bozdağ’s words: “While you criticize what young people in this country do in desperation, you can’t criticize American soldiers at İncirlik [airbase] or Iraq [who enter mosques] with their boots on,” İnce said.
Doctors offered an immediate medical response to Gezi protesters at the Mosque during a fierce police crackdown. An investigation was launched into the issue after Erdoğan, at rallies in Ankara and Istanbul, openly accused the protesters of drinking alcoholic beverages and entering the mosque with their shoes.
Muezzin Fuat Yıldırım has confirmed that first aid had been administered to injured protesters between May 31 and June 3, but has repeated that he did not see alcoholic beverages being consumed in the mosque, in contrast to Erdoğan’s accusations.