Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), has reacted against Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's claim that some of the people newly hired by the metropolitan municipality had criminal records for terrorism charges.
“The reputation of Soylu would not suffice to defame me, but I will use my right before the law," İmamoğlu said on Dec. 10, referring to the minister's remarks as an attack towards his personal rights and the rights of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB).
The mayor's remarks came a day after Soylu said that 33,000 people had been hired by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality following the election of İmamoğlu in the 2019 local elections.
“Some 33,000 personnel have been hired by the İBB. Only 12,000 of them have been looked into [by the authorities], and 557 of them have been determined to a have record of being connected to a terror group,” Soylu said during budget discussions in parliament on Dec. 9, in a clear attempt to discredit the works of the municipality.
Soylu listed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) among these groups.
İmamoğlu said that Soylu has been “speaking lies,” not only with regards to accusations of terrorism connections of the employees, but also the figures. He said that since he assumed the post of mayorship, 20,958 have been hired, among whom 3,000 had been already working as subcontracted workers. On top of that, 15,000 people left their jobs from the municipality during this period, out of whom 3,376 people were dismissed. The rest of them left their jobs on their own, with some of them having retired as their tenure had ended, İmamoğlu said.
“Their Istanbul representatives [of the Interior Ministry] are speaking lies; the Minister who has given this number is also speaking lies,” İmamoğlu said.
İmamoğlu also suggested that Soylu go through a psychological checkup as his “attitude, behaviors and the form of having a fight” do not seem to fit the position of an interior minister.
“Let independent health institutions come and conduct an analysis on the minister whose psychology has deteriorated substantially, because if the person heading such an important institution of Turkey is in this situation, our Interior Ministry is under threat,” said İmamoğlu.
“The Interior Ministry is a valuable institution. It is a must that it is managed in a healthy and rational way.”
İmamoğlu is the first politician to have defeated the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the race for the Istanbul Municipality in 2019, since 25 years ago. This is why he is targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ministers.