Erdoğan faces multiple criminal complaints for calling Gezi protestors ‘sluts’

Turkish President and leader of Justice and Development Party (AKP), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during his ruling AKP's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT), in Ankara, on May 26, 2021. Adem ALTAN / AFP

Several opposition parties have filed criminal complaints against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who referred to the participants of mass anti-government protests in 2013 as “sluts” and some other insulting words, Turkish Minute reported.

On the ninth anniversary of the Gezi Park protests, the biggest challenge to the rule of then-prime minister Erdoğan, Erdoğan once again attacked the protestors, referring to them as terrorists and using profanities.

The president attracted widespread criticism for using such words to describe people who were merely exercising their democratic right to protest.

Sevda Erdan Kılıç, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and lawyers from the People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-imperialist political party in Turkey, filed criminal complaints against the president on Thursday due to his remarks on allegations of “insult” and “provoking the public to hatred and enmity.”

Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) lawmaker Sera Kadıgil and female members of the party also filed criminal complaints against Erdoğan at the İstanbul Courthouse due to his remarks targeting the Gezi protestors, while the legal office of Turkey’s Left Party also announced that they would file a criminal complaint against Erdoğan and would share their petition with the public so that they can also file complaints with the same petition.

The protests in 2013 erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in the Taksim neighborhood of İstanbul. They quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to use of disproportionate force by the police.

Erdoğan, who spoke at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday, described the Gezi Park protests as the source of many problems Turkey has to deal with now while reiterating an earlier claim that the protestors acted disrespectfully in a mosque in which they took refuge from the police.

“These terrorists [who took refuge] in the Bezmialem Mosque [in the Beşiktaş district of İstanbul] dirtied the mosque with beer bottles. They are rotten to the core, they are sluts,” said Erdoğan.

Erdoğan used the Turkish word “sürtük,” a profanity that could be translated as “slut,” leading to outrage.

Although Erdoğan continues to repeat an earlier claim suggesting that protestors who took refuge in the mosque acted disrespectfully and left their beer bottles there, a deputy imam working at the mosque at the time contradicted his narrative, saying that he did not see any beer bottles in the mosque nor anyone consuming alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam.

In the meantime İlhan Taşçı, a member of Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), petitioned the watchdog to draft a report about the media organizations that live broadcast Erdoğan’s remarks that included “insults and swear words.”

He said many TV stations aired Erdoğan words, which are considered profanities in Turkish society.

“Uttering such words against millions of people in live broadcasts is unthinkable and unacceptable,” said Taşçı.

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