Two women detained over ‘ugly’ gesture at Turkish PM Erdoğan released

Two women detained over ‘ugly’ gesture at Turkish PM Erdoğan released

Banu Şen / İZMİR
Two women detained over ‘ugly’ gesture at Turkish PM Erdoğan released

Anti-government protesters organized a demonstration near Gündoğdu Square where Erdoğan spoke on March 16. Tensions were high in İzmir before and after the march. Photo: Banu Şen / İZMİR

Two women who were detained after allegedly making a hand gesture at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in İzmir on March 16 have been released.

The women were released after testifying at a police station, İzmir Bar Association Head Ercan Demir said via Twitter.

One of the women, whose identity has not been revealed, was reportedly detained for making a gesture at Erdoğan, while the other, identified only as F.A., was questioned at a police station for “insulting” the prime minister.

Erdoğan, who stepped up his fiery rhetoric against his political opponents at his election campaign rally in İzmir, mentioned an incident that he witnessed after he arrived in İzmir in a helicopter. He said that while his motorcade was driving him to Gündoğdu Square for the rally, a bystander made an insulting hand gesture at him.

"While I was coming here today, a woman in the company of a man, presumably her husband, made such an ugly gesture that reflects what the [main opposition Republican People's Party] CHP is. The prime minister of the country is passing by and she's making that gesture with her hands and arms," Erdoğan said.

"You're a lady, a woman ... How can you make such a gesture? This is the CHP mentality. I could understand if it was a man, although he also shouldn't do it, but I cannot comprehend how a woman does it," he added.

Soon after Erdoğan's comments, two women were identified and detained, before being transferred to the police department to testify about the incident.

The husband of F.A. said his wife opened her arms to gesture “Why are you in İzmir?” while Erdoğan was leaving the rally.

“It was not an insult. At that time they caught each other’s eye. I think the prime minister thought it was a move like a protest. He stopped the bus then pointed out [our] flat to his bodyguards,” the husband said.

“Within three minutes they had entered the flat. They wanted to detain us. They told us to apologize. We had done nothing that would require an apology. Then they took my wife to the police station on charges of insulting the prime minister,” he added.

According to Turkish law, the two could receive prison sentences for "insulting the statesmen and public officials."

Ethem Coşkuner, a surgeon in the Black Sea town of Trabzon received a suspended 10-month prison sentence in 2012 for insulting Erdoğan during a heated debate with an employee at his hospital.