Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation on Tuesday after fans of Galatasaray football team unfurled a giant poster ahead of a derby on Sunday over the claims that the poster contains a “subliminal message” of US-based Turkish-Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen following an order by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Monday.
Just before the match between Galatasaray and its rival Fenerbahçe kicked off, home fans opened a giant red and yellow poster behind the goal showing Sylvester Stallone’s fictional boxer “Rocky,” along with a caption in Turkish: “Stand up. They look big because you are kneeling.”
The pro-government media and social media accounts implied that the banner was referring to Pennsylvania, a US state where the popular statue of the fictional Rocky Balboa locates and where Turkish-Muslim scholar Gülen currently lives in.
Claims subsequently linked the banner with a poem, “Stand up, Sakarya,” which was read by Fethullah Gülen during a sermon earlier this month. Prime Minister Yıldırım on Tuesday ordered the authorities to carry out a terror investigation into the poster, sources from his office stated.
In a statement, Galatasaray said the accusations were “a pathetic attempt” to discredit the club, adding that the same poster was used at a match in May. Meanwhile, Stallone himself shared video footage of the poster on his Twitter and Instagram accounts on Oct. 23, writing: “Recently posted from a huge soccer game in Turkey!!”
Galatasaray’s shares dropped nearly 5 percent following the media reports over the terror probe.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.