The members of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members were stabbed on Saturday evening while trying to halt an attack on pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) election campaign booths on Büyükada, one of İstanbul ‘s Prince’s Islands, the Bianet news website reported.
Bülent Atmaca, a member of the CHP’s youth branch, said they saw around 20 people trying to burn HDP flags and banners, adding that some members of his group were stabbed when they decided to intervene.
Atmaca said the attackers had been gathered around the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) booths.
The CHP’s Büyükada branch issued a statement on Facebook identifying the attackers as supporters of the “opposing view.”
The injured CHP members were taken to a local hospital for emergency treatment.
HDP member Neşe Erbil said their stands had been repeatedly attacked during the campaign in advance of presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.
Erbil said police had treated the stabbed CHP members harshly, while being protective of the assaulters.
“The residents of Büyükada last night saw a group of young people come to the island and talk about an attack. People are coming from the mainland to attack HDP booths,” Erbil said.
During the last month, the opposition parties, including the CHP, İYİ (Good) Party, HDP and Felicity Party (SP), have been subjected to several attacks by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ally, the MHP, or other politically affiliated groups.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has refused to appear on TV for a debate with CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce ahead of a presidential election on June 24, the Cumhuriyet daily reported. “He shamelessly invites me on TV. He will get ratings thanks to me. Why should I talk to him?” Erdoğan said during a Sunday evening program on Kanal 7.
İnce has been calling on Erdoğan for a debate on whatever TV channel he prefers. “He can have his teleprompter, too,” İnce said, referring to the fact that Erdoğan always uses teleprompters for speeches.
Turkey saw debates between political leaders before elections during the 1980s and ’90s. The last political debate on TV was between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then-CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal before the general election of 2002. Erdoğan has refused to appear in TV debates with political party leaders since he took power in 2002.
Rebuffing Erdoğan’s statement, İnce on Sunday reiterated his call for a TV debate. “I appeared on a TV program on CNN Türk, so Erdoğan did. We checked the ratings. Erdoğan had 14, I had 44. Even the weather forecast had higher ratings than Erdoğan… I will contribute to your ratings. You attracted only one-quarter of the audience I did. Come on live TV with me so that you will gain some popularity.”
On Saturday, a group of 14 Salafi associations took out a newspaper advertisement announcing support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey’s June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Birgün daily reported.
Salafism is a movement among Sunni Muslims dating back to 19th century Egypt, founded to fight imperialism in the Middle East. They have recently gained more acceptance and support in Turkey. Critics accuse Turkish Salafists of joining radical armed groups in Syria.
“For not experiencing again the hostility towards our religion, the treason to our homeland, the cruelty to our people. For not being like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Egypt. For not losing the benefit of 16 years [of AKP rule],” the advertisement said.
Representing the 14 associations, Ebu Said Yarpuzlu signed the statement in the ad; however, he later posted another statement on Facebook, saying they have never believed in democracy.
“We have never approved of democracy. We have never thought we could reach a greater good with it,” Yarpuzlu said.
President Erdoğan and his AKP have been garnering solid political support from religious groups. (SCF with turkishminute.com)