The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has once again used its anti-coup rhetoric following a main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy's remarks on executed former prime minister Adnan Menderes.
CHP lawmaker Engin Altay on April 20 said that the execution of Menderes is the "biggest mistake made in the history of the Turkish Republic," before going on to compare the former PM's era to that of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's in terms of the leaders' relations with Islamist groups.
"It's the biggest mistake and the biggest blow dealt to the Turkish democracy," Altay told journalists at a TV show on broadcaster KRT TV, as he also criticized Menderes for pampering religious groups.
According to Altay, Menderes was forced to issue a law on crimes committed against Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, modern Turkey's founding father, following the said groups' actions.
"Not to make a comparison, but I hope Erdoğan's fate won't be the same. We'll beat in him in elections," the deputy said, prompting the journalists to immediately ask for clarification to prevent misunderstandings.
"What I'm saying is that if Erdoğan pampers these groups, he will have to issue a new law as well," Altay said, clearly refuting that he suggested Erdoğan's fate will be similar to that of Menderes.
"No one's fate should be like that. The people will remove Erdoğan from power in elections," the deputy stressed.
Menderes, a right-wing figure adored by Erdoğan and his AKP, was executed by hanging following a coup in 1960 after serving as prime minister for 10 years.
Shortly after the broadcast on April 20, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu shared a video from the program that was cropped intentionally by the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak to make it seem like Altay suggested a similar fate for Erdoğan.
"You're ignorant and don't know history. You [CHP] are wretched people who don't believe in politics, democracy and the people and see coups as a means to get to power... Likening Menderes' fate to that of Erdoğan's... We'll make you suffer more than [we did so on] July 15," Soylu said in a tweet early on April 21, referring to the July 2016 thwarted coup.
Tarih fukarası, cahil...— Süleyman Soylu | Maske😷 Mesafe↔️ Temizlik🧼 (@suleymansoylu) April 20, 2021
Siyasete, demokrasiye, Millete inanmayan,
Hâlâ darbeyi iktidar aracı gören zavallılar...
"Menderes'in sonunu Erdoğan’a yakıştırmak..."
15 Temmuz'dan beter yaparız... pic.twitter.com/isJGbQ0B6p
The AKP uses anti-coup rhetoric frequently against its critics and has been making references to how the July 15 coup attempt was thwarted since 2016, even though the botched coup is widely believed to have been orchestrated by the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen - an ally-turned-foe of Erdoğan and his AKP.
The most recent example of the said rhetoric surfaced when a group of retired admirals released a joint statement to urge the government to preserve the Montreux Convention.
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik also slammed Altay, claiming that the lawmaker threatened Erdoğan.
"We are standing tall with the people's will against those threatening us with death," Çelik said in a tweet.
Milli iradeyi ölümle tehdit edenlere meydan okuyoruz.— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) April 20, 2021
Elinizden geleni ardınıza koymayın!
Cumhurbaşkanımızı “Menderes’in sonu” ile tehdit edenlere diyoruz ki, buyrun gelin, biz burdayız.
Siz “Menderes’in sonu” diye tehdit edin, biz milli irade diyerek dimdik karşınızdayız. pic.twitter.com/dtmx0qNpkC
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun was another official to mention July 15 coup attempt to criticize Altay.
"Our people showed to you and the global gangs that you cooperate with that it won't allow its will to be crushed on July 15," Altun said on April 21, claiming that the CHP "cooperates with extensions of terrorist groups."
"You've been repeating your threats of executions and coups for years," Altun also said.
15 Temmuz ile birlikte aziz milletimiz kendi iradesini canı pahasına da olsa çiğnetmeyeceğini size ve işbirliği içerisinde olduğunuz küresel çetelere gösterdi. Milletimizi tehdit etmek için kullandığınız enerjiyi emperyalist prangalarınızdan kurtulmak için harcayın.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) April 21, 2021
Later on April 21, Erdoğan deemed Altay "immoral and shameless."
"We put on our burial robes when we entered politics. Are you happy with the fate of Menderes? You were the ones who paved the way for his end," Erdoğan told AKP members during his party's weekly parliamentary group meeting, before mentioning how the July 15 coup bid was defeated.
Shortly after his speech, Erdoğan's lawyers filed a complaint against Altay over "threatening" their client.
Altay, on his part, said that the IQs of those who perceive a coup threat from his speech are "less than their shoe sizes."
Bu konuşmadan darbe algılayanların IQ'sü ayakkabılarının numaraları kadardır. pic.twitter.com/TjB7p9DCAZ— Engin ALTAY (@enginaltaychp) April 21, 2021
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), meanwhile, said that an investigation was launched into KRT TV over Altay's remarks.