Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on May 7 accused main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Mayor and vice presidential candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu of being the “provocateur” of the attack against the latter which happened in the eastern Erzurum province. He also claimed İmamoğlu called the people of Erzurum “provocateurs.”
“Ekrem İmamoğlu, who calls the people of Erzurum provocateurs, is himself a provocateur. I will explain one by one how you prepared this provocation step by step on TV,” Soylu argued in a tweet.
Erzurum halkına provokatör diyen Ekrem İmamoğlu’nun kendisi provokatördür— Süleyman Soylu (@suleymansoylu) May 7, 2023
Bu provokasyonu adım adım nasıl hazırladığını biraz sonra katılacağım Ülke TV canlı yayınında tek tek açıklayacağım
His remarks came after a group of people threw stones at the election bus of İmamoğlu and İmamoğlu supporters while he was addressing citizens during a rally in Erzurum on May 7.
In the attack, some people were injured due to the stones thrown at them.
İmamoğlu also said in a tweet that the attack has nothing to do with the people of Erzurum.
Bugün yaşanan olayların Erzurumlu hemşehrilerimle ilgisi yoktur. Yaralı vatandaşlarımızla konuşuyor, durumlarını yakından takip ediyorum. https://t.co/fLfEFiIyp3— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) May 7, 2023
Similarly, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Emrullah İşler defended the attack against İmamoğlu and deemed it "backlash."
“You walk shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). You hold rallies and make victory signs with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the PKK’s political extension. Then, when you realize that you will lose the election upon the backlash, you play the victim by provocation! Do not worry about it, these saintly people will ask you to account for the dirty relations you have entered on May 14th,” he said.
1- PKK ile omuz omuza yol yürüyeceksiniz; siyasi uzantısı HDP ile kol kola mitingler düzenleyip zafer işaretleri yapacaksınız.— Emrullah İŞLER (@emrullahisler) May 7, 2023
Sonra, gördüğünüz tepkiler üzerine seçimi kaybedeceğinizi anlayıp provokasyon yaparak mağduru oynayacaksınız!
Similarly, AKP’s Erzurum Mayor Mehmet Sekmen argued that İmamoğlu “himself created the chaos.”
“İmamoğlu thought that thousands of people in this nationalist-conservative city would welcome him as they welcomed our president (Erdoğan). Those days are gone. There is no support for you from this nation anymore. No one has the right to mess with our city. He has nothing to do to put our governor, our security, our police in trouble,” Sekmen said in a press release on May 7 evening in a move to justify the attack.
Sekmen argued İmamoğlu held the rally “without permission” and CHP supporters also threw stones.
After the attack, İmamoğlu severely criticized the security forces and officials for not preventing the attack and said they will file criminal complaints against the governor, mayor, and chief of police.