Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a well-known journalist on accusations of praising a criminal due to his remarks allegedly in support of a university student who punched a protestor carrying an Islamic flag earlier this week, Turkish Minute reported, citing the state-run Anadolu and private DHA news agencies.
The incident, which took place during an anti-Israel rally in İstanbul on Monday, was widely covered in the media and led to mixed reactions among Turkey’s secular and conservative communities.
Journalist Fatih Altaylı posted a message on his X account, saying, “Eline Sağlık” which can be translated as “Well done,” in response to the incident, when university student Ege Akersoy punched İsmail Aydemir, one of the protestors, for carrying a flag bearing the Islamic “word of Tawhid” (unity), translated as “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
In a video following the incident, Akersoy is seen asking Aydemir why he wasn’t carrying the Turkish flag instead, while a bloodied Aydemir asks Akersoy why he attacked him and if he is not also a Muslim.
Akersoy was arrested following the incident. Many found his arrest disproportionate to his actions, while some claimed that it should have been Aydemir to face criminal charges because they claimed the flag he was carrying was a “caliphate flag.” They accused him of “revolting against the constitutional order” by suggesting reinstatement of the caliphate, which was abolished in 1924 by Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
According to the reports, Altaylı is accused of “praising a crime and a criminal” as part of an investigation launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. In another investigation, the journalist is facing charges of “fomenting hatred and enmity among the public” due to his comments in a video dated December 24 about the participants of a recent anti-Israel rally in Ankara.
Altaylı told the T24 news website that he was summoned by prosecutors on Wednesday and would go to the prosecutor’s office with his lawyer on Friday to testify.
He deleted his message on X and said in a video on his YouTube channel that he did not mean to praise Akersoy’s attack and had posted the controversial tweet without referring to any specific person.
Altaylı, who worked for various news outlets in the past, is currently running a YouTube channel where he shares his comments on a wide range of national and international issues. He has more than 800,000 subscribers, with his videos attracting millions of viewers.