Crowd attacks election stand of AKP’s radical Islamist ally HÜDA-PAR in Trabzon

A crowded group on May 4 attacked an election stand set up by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) new ally radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) in the AKP’s stronghold Trabzon province. The group destroyed the stand with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's photo, leading to police intervention.

Fatih Saygın / Gazete Duvar

A group on May 4 launched an attack on an election booth set up by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) new ally radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) in Trabzon, a province known for its strong support for the AKP.

The AKP's decision to form an alliance with HÜDA-PAR, a party with a controversial reputation, has sparked widespread controversy and opposition from various segments of society, including the party base. 

Shortly before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's rally in Trabzon on May 3, the citizens had attacked the HÜDA-PAR's stand as well.

Party members on May 4 reopened the stand. A group gathered in front of the stand and demanded that it be removed. "Terrorists are not allowed in Trabzon," said the people around the stand surrounded by a large number of police officers.

The crowd did not disperse despite the warnings and broke through the police barrier. They demolished the stand with Erdoğan's photo and attacked HÜDA-PAR members. After the brawl, the police regained control and party members reopened the election booth. 

Trabzon Police Chief Murat Esertürk arrived at the scene and tried to calm down the group. A Trabzon resident who asked Esertürk to remove the stand said, "Would you protect the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) stand like this? We also reacted when the HDP marched, and the police did not intervene."

The group often shouted nationalist slogans such as regarding the police officer Gaffar Okkan who has been assassinated by Hizbullah in 2001.

Hizbullah, which killed scores of people in the late 1980s and early 1990s, targeted mostly Kurds in Turkey's southeast region during fighting between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Following a clash with police during a raid in Istanbul on Jan. 17, 2000, Hizbullah adopted a low-key profile and changed tactics to survive the clampdown.

It has started to reorganize itself quietly under a number of foundations, associations and other entities. Several members of the group have established the HÜDA-PAR political party in December 2012 with the support of the current government, which green-lighted the party's entry into politics.

On March 24, HÜDA-PAR, although not officially part of the ruling People’s Alliance, announced that they will run in the general elections under the AKP's deputy list.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)