Turkish government, opposition feud over attack on deputy

Turkish government, opposition feud over attack on deputy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish government, opposition feud over attack on deputy

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ (L) speaks at a press conference in response to the release of the attacker. AA photo

A row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), sparked by a recent attack against Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ is escalating, with the former suggesting that the latter has been almost supporting the attacker. Meanwhile, Bozdağ himself has been insistently speculating about the presence of an organized plot behind the attack.

In response to assumptions that the attacker was released thanks to a package of legal reforms that was adopted last summer, dubbed the “third judicial package,” Bozdağ said they could amend the package if there was really a problematic situation like that.

The incident also offered an opportunity to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to recall the CHP’s position during the one-party era and to eventually refute all kinds of criticisms suggesting his strong tendency towards autocratic governance.

“The deputy leaders of the main opposition form a human barrier around the assailant immediately. They caress the assailant. They almost claim ownership of the assailant. You see that this presumptuous who attacked our deputy prime minister is immediately released without pending trial as if to reward him, after being interrogated for a short time. Then they come up and talk about dictatorship without shame,” Erdoğan said Aug.20 at an expanded meeting of the provincial chairs of his party.

‘National chief’

“I reminded this to the main opposition, go look if in the time of your ‘National Chief’ a sole person could dare to call him a dictator? I wonder, has there been anyone who could call your coup-doer friends dictators until this day?” Erdoğan said, criticizing the CHP over its former leader İsmet İnönü, known as the “National Chief” due to his practices while he was the prime minister during the one-party era, and the president at the beginning of the multiparty era.

A protester attacked Bozdağ by hitting him in the chest on Aug. 16 during a ceremony in Nevşehir held to commemorate Alevi-Bektaşi figure Hacı Bektaşı Veli. Hüseyin Satı, a local journalist, who was released shortly after detention. For his part, while ruling out criticisms that he did not respond strongly to the attack-, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was defiant.

“When I took the podium, I started my speech with a sentence hung on Hacı Bektaşı Veli municipality building. ‘Even if you get hurt, do not hurt.’ I especially underlined that the square where the Hacı Bektaşı ceremonies are held must be a square of peace and friendship, fraternity. When I finished my speech and sat next to Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, I found out that he was exposed to violence from his own words. He said ‘A punch was landed.’ Then I expressed to my journalist friends that I condemned it,” Kılıçdaroğlu elaborated about his witnesses at the scene of the incident, also on Aug. 20, speaking at a press conference ahead of his departure for Iraq.

In response to questions about assumptions related to the “third judicial package” and the release of the attacker, Bozdağ said: “If there are certain verdicts that distort the societal peace, if we need to re-evaluating these verdicts, handle and take the necessary steps, we will do that too.”