Turkish journalist Levent Gültekin was attacked by a group of 25 people on March 8, days after criticizing Alparslan Türkeş, the late founder of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
"I was attacked by a group of 25 thugs, I'm fine now," Gültekin said on Twitter.
25 kişilik bir eşkıya grubunun saldırısına uğradım kanalın önünde, şu anda iyim birazdan programda anlayacağım— Levent Gültekin (@acikcenk) March 8, 2021
Footage obtained by a nearby security camera showed Gültekin being assaulted in front of the building of Halk TV, a channel critical of the government, in Istanbul's Bakırköy.
Gültekin later described how the attack took place in the show that he hosts.
"I saw two young people and noticed that they were following me. When I was about to arrive at the channel's building, 15 to 20 people attacked me. These 25 people are probably proud of themselves. I would be ashamed if I were them. Attacking one person as a group of 25 people is thuggery," Gültekin said.
The journalist also called the assailants "a group of cowards" and urged MHP voters to think about the damage that they inflicting on Turkey.
"The difference between the mafia and the state is the law. Those who try to make it seem like they're the owners of the state try to implement the law of gangs. Journalists and politicians' lives are not safe," Gültekin said.
Gültekin last week slammed Türkeş for spreading the diseases of nationalism and racism in the country.
"He made the lives of millions of young people miserable," he said, prompting an immediate backlash from the MHP, which is the staunch ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"This miserable Gültekin who is in a state of insanity hates those the nation loves, slanders those it values, attempts to defame those it respects and slams the reputable with hatred and enmity," MHP deputy leader Semih Yalçın, who is known for his violent statements, said on March 4, while also calling Gültekin "a sick man."
3-Bir tür cinnet hâlindeki bu zavallı Gültekin; milletin sevdiklerinden nefret ediyor, değer verdiklerini kötülüyor, saygı duyduklarını tahkire yelteniyor, itibar sahiplerinin halk nezdindeki yerini kin ve nefretle taşlıyor.— E. Semih Yalçın (@E_SemihYalcin) March 4, 2021
Yalçın also accused Gültekin of being an enemy of the Turks and a separatist - a term used for supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
It's common for the paramilitaries of the MHP to attack critics of their party, since they enjoy impunity. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli is a close friend of mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı, who threatened main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu more than once, and the Gray Wolves - a group of far-right ultra-nationalist Turks - are banned in several European countries due to their constant attacks.
Yalçın last year called the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) "a flock of insects that need to be killed."
"The HDP/PKK are enemies of the people, nature and humanity. The HDP/PKK terror group is a flock of political insects that needs to be killed. They are a group whose mouths need to be shut," Yalçın said in December, which was followed by the HDP taking his remarks to international courts on the grounds that they are similar to those used prior to genocides.
Also last year, MHP deputy Erkan Akçay bragged about the MHP paramilitaries' attack on a man for voicing his wish for Bahçeli to get COVID-19.
Bu yakışıklı(!)kim?— Erkan Akçay (@erkanakcay45) March 24, 2020
Şerefsizlik testi pozitif çıkmış diyorlar. pic.twitter.com/hdXvMxmahf
It has also become a trend for the MHP supporters to be involved in femicides and violence against women cases.
Gültekin on March 8 said that the MHP has been harming the country since its foundation.
"You've been polarizing the country for the past 40 years," he said.
The journalist on March 9 said that his fingers were broken in the attack as he was trying to cover his head and face.
Ellerimle kafamı ve yüzümü korumaya aldığım için parmaklarım kırılmış onun dışında çok şükür iyim. Yani anlayacağınız dün akşamki İki Yorum’u kırık parmakla yapmışım :)— Levent Gültekin (@acikcenk) March 9, 2021
Also on March 9, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül wished a speedy recovery to Gültekin and said that violence can never be approved.
An investigation was launched into the incident.