The motive behind the killing of a 20-year-old man in the Turkish capital Ankara has created controversy, with initial reports saying that he was killed in a racially-motivated murder although latter reports painted a completely different picture.
Barış Çakan, who was from the eastern province of Ağrı, was attacked by three people late on May 30 in the Etimesgut district and was stabbed in his heart. The attackers were detained after the incident.
Initial reports on May 31 said that he was the victim of racism, which prompted outrage on social media, but his family on June 1 denied such claims.
Speaking about the killing, Çakan's cousin Doğan Çakan told Mesopotamia News Agency that this is not the first time that they were attacked for listening to Kurdish music, adding that the murder may be racially motivated.
However, he later told Evrensel daily that it's not related to Kurdish music, while also noting that he was not present at the scene of the murder.
Other family members, such as his father, also denied the murder being racially motivated.
"My son came out when his friend called. Some 15 minutes later, his friend called me and told me that there was a fight. He said, 'I escaped, but can't see Barış.' We went out and saw ambulances. He was stabbed by three people," Nihat Çakan, his father, said.
"Those three people were in a car listening to music. The call to prayer was performed at the time. My son's friend told them to turn the volume down due to the prayers. They said, 'Are you teaching me Islam?' in return and a fight erupted," he added.
HDP points to 'atmosphere of enmity'
The Kurdish-issue focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said that the incident was racially-motivated.
"The mindset that killed Barış feeds itself from closing schools teaching Kurdish and removing Kurdish signs," the HDP said, referring to the practices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
#BarisCakan Kürtçe şarkı dinlediği için ırkçı bir cinayetle katledildi. Barış’ı katleden zihniyet; Kürtçe eğitim veren okulları kapatan, Kürtçe tabelaları indiren anlayıştan besleniyor. Bu anlayışa karşı şarkılarımızı söylemeye, ezilenlerle yan yana olmaya devam edeceğiz. pic.twitter.com/1jmo9YFS0x— HDP (@HDPgenelmerkezi) June 1, 2020
HDP Group Deputy Chairwoman Meral Danış Beştaş said that the perpetrators of the attack "are known."
"Those who plant the seeds of hatred and enmity in the public and those who ban even the discourse on peace, this is the result," Beştaş said in a tweet.
Kürtçe şarkı söylediği için katledilen bir can! #BarışÇakan aslında faili belli bir cinayetin kurbanıdır.— Meral Danış Beştaş (@meraldanis) June 1, 2020
Halkın içine kin ve nefret tohumu ekenler, halkı galeyana getirenler, barış söylemini bile yasaklayanlar işte eseriniz... pic.twitter.com/IAfZkIcYvO
Another HDP deputy, Garo Paylan, said that "the atmosphere of enmity claimed another life."
"The government is responsible for the hate killings with its politics of hate," Paylan said, while deeming not commenting on the racist murders in Turkey when slamming those in the U.S. "hypocrisy."
Nefret iklimi bir can daha aldı.— Garo Paylan - Կարօ Փայլան (@GaroPaylan) June 1, 2020
Barış Çakan, Kürtçe şarkı dinlediği için ırkçı bir cinayetle katledildi.
İktidar, uyguladığı nefret siyaseti ile, nefret cinayetlerinin sorumlusudur.
ABD’deki ırkçılığa laf ederken, memleketteki ırkçılığı görmemek riyakarlıktır.#BarisCakan pic.twitter.com/pv7hHtwJmj
A statement was released from the Ankara Governor's Office on the incident, saying that it's not related to Kurdish.
According to the office, the incident started when Çakan and his friend, identified only as B.A., warned the perpetrators to not listen to loud music during Islamic call to prayers.
It also said that "reflecting the incident in a different way is not well-intentioned."
Another statement was released by Interior Ministry spokesperson İsmail Çataklı, who said that Kurdish music was not listened to at the time of the killing.
"The person who was killed was the one who warned the others to not listen to loud music," he said, adding that the owners of the claims on the murder being racially motivated are "provocateurs."