Woman detained after appearing on viral ‘secularism’ video
ISTANBULA women calling for secularism was detained after participating in a speech protesting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub that killed 39 people. However, official sources have said that her detention was not linked to the appearence on the popular video but her former social media postings that praised the killing of a prosecutor by the outlawed far-left group the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) militants.
The video of a speech delivered by a member of the Halkevleri (People’s Houses), Ergin Çevik, at a teahouse in the Istanbul neighborhood of Okmeydanı calling for secularism emerged on social media on Jan. 1, prompting a user to report it to the Interior Ministry asking for the “traitors to be stopped.”
“We say ‘enough.’ From now on, we won’t allow ISIL or any reactionary jihadist gang into our neighborhoods,” Çevik says in the video, as other Halkevleri members - including Ayşegül Başar, who was later detained - listen in the background.
After the video went viral on social media, a Twitter user denounced it in a tweet posted to the Interior Ministry’s official Twitter account.
“Terrorists are inviting people to civil war in Okmeydanı. Stop these traitors,” wrote the user, addressing the Interior Ministry.
The tweet received a reply from the ministry, which stated that the person speaking in the video should be identified and the location of the speech found.
“The video has been transmitted to anti-terror units. Please identify the person wherever you see him,” the reply sent by the Interior Ministry’s official account read.
The ministry’s tweet drew a condemnation on social media and was deleted nearly two hours after it was posted. Lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) slammed the exchange and a hashtag reading “Secularism is not a crime” was launched.
Despite the Interior Ministry deleting its tweet, Halkevleri member Ayşegül Başar, who can be seen in the background of the video listening to Çevik’s speech, was detained by police at her house in the early hours of Jan. 2.
CHP Istanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş released a statement after Başar’s detention, saying she would be held by police for five days.
“Why is the Interior Ministry bothered by youths making anti-ISIL propaganda?” Yarkadaş asked.
An official source speaking to the Daily News said the detention was linked to a social media posting that praised the killing of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a prosecutor, in Istanbul at a main courthouse after being taken hostage by two militants.
The militants were also killed in a gun fight with police.