Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has targeted İzmir Mayor Tunç Soyer, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, over the latter’s remarks in criticism of the Ottoman Empire's rulership.
“A mayor comes out in İzmir. He insults the Ottoman (Empire). That person who does not know his limits! That immoral person! You cannot save İzmir from flood disasters, from dirt, sewage waters, and cannot save the (İzmir) bay from stink. When did you come to a point to insult the Ottoman (Empire)? You impertinent! This person’s father was the same, and he is the same,” Erdoğan said on Sept. 14 during an opening ceremony, refusing to refer to Soyer by his name, in an attempt to derogate him.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after Soyer criticized the Ottoman government on Sept. 9 while marking the 100th year anniversary of İzmir’s liberation from invasion during the Turkish War of Independence.
“It was 100 years ago. Those running these lands were in negligence and even in disloyalty. They have not thought about the youth, women, children and future at all. They have thrown the whole nation into the fire to only protect the sultanate in their palaces. They have trampled on our human dignity and our passion for independence; they have surrendered,” Soyer said during the celebrations on Sept. 9
After Erdoğan’s targeting of him, Soyer took to Twitter on Sept. 14, sharing merely a picture of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, an army officer who founded the independent Republic of Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
In the face of Erdoğan’s remarks, many people took to the internet to find out about Soyer’s father Nurettin Soyer, a public prosecutor known to have opened cases against prominent politicians following the 1980 coup d'état. His prosecutions led to 5 death sentences, 9 life sentences and sentences ranging from 10 months to 36 years for another 221 defendants. Most of those prosecuted were from far-right groups, most notably the Grey Wolves. One defendant who received 5 years in prison was Alparslan Türkeş, the founder and first leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
When Tunç Soyer became the CHP's candidate for İzmir mayorship in 2019, the ruling People's Alliance that includes the MHP sharply criticized him for his father's actions against nationalist politicians. However, Nurettin Soyer was also defended for being the only prosecutor ever to bring a case against Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülen Movement.