Turkish PM compares protesters to 'pitiful rodents' for calls to damage the economy
ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a fast-breaking dinner organized in Ankara by the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK), July 23. AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out against protesters who made calls to stop consumption in order to damage the economy, comparing them to "pitiful rodents." Erdoğan called the suggestion "barbaric," saying it would harm the nation, and praised the attitude of shopkeepers during the Gezi Park protest wave.
"Some have made calls to stop consuming for sixth months in order to halt the economy. The idea of toppling the government by causing a collapse of tradesmen is barbarian," Erdoğan said on July 23, speaking at a fast-breaking dinner organized in Ankara by the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK).
"Those who want to handle their problems with the government by whittling away the Turkish economy are no different from pitiful rodents trying to bore holes in the ship carrying all 76 million [Turkish people]," he added.
The prime minister had previously referred to protesters as "marauders" (Çapulcu in Turkish), which was ironically converted to the Anglicism "chapullers" and became one of the demonstrators' war cries.
Erdoğan stressed that many shopkeepers in Istanbul and Ankara had suffered a lot of economic and material hardship due to the Gezi protests.
"Unfortunately, our shopkeepers have been targeted. As a result of the terrorizing of our streets, many shopkeepers' businesses were undermined. Shops were looted. Some shop owners received threats. Tables and chairs were destroyed. The shopkeepers' warnings inviting people to common sense were not listened to," Erdoğan said.
"The shopkeepers have stood against vandalism, looting and violence throughout history, because they have foresight. They can quickly grasp where events can lead and adopt a clear attitude accordingly. They saw that it was Turkey's environment of stability and trust that was being targeted and took a stand," Erdoğan said, adding that shopkeepers expected "security and stability" from the government. "[Turkish tradesmen] always side with justice and the law."
The nearly two-month-long protests that were sparked by the redevelopment project of Istanbul's Gezi Park spread mostly due to the violent police crackdowns against demonstrators. Erdoğan has criticized the protests from the start, describing them as a plot against the government and accusing an "interest rate lobby" of fomenting the unrest.