Opposition leaders Kılıçdaroğlu, Davutoğlu criticize arrest of high school student over 'insulting Atatürk'

Turkish opposition CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu have criticized the arrest of a high school student after public backlash on charges of “publicly insulting the memory of Atatürk.”

This file photo shows opposition Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's portrait on the background.

Duvar English

Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and former Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition Future (Gelecek) Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sept. 21 criticized the arrest of a 17-year-old high school student over “making obscene gestures with a photograph of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,” the founding father of the Republic of Turkey.

In a tweet series, Kılıçdaroğlu said they cannot accept "insults" against Atatürk, which are the result of the climate created by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). "However, (we cannot) punish a child who has been trained like this, deceived like this, and brainwashed like this.

"This arrest, made by the (presidential) Palace to impress, will do nothing but steal that child's future. It will only contribute to the Palace's 'hostilization' policy. For example, a Kuwaiti person continues to insult Atatürk. Moreover, it is claimed that this person has a passport of the Republic of Turkey. First of all, this claim should be clarified immediately by the relevant authorities," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

"Whether the claim is true or not, this is the point of the Palace Government's policy of selling citizenship in exchange for money. The Republic of Turkey was established not by grace, but by blood. Citizenship of our country is equally valuable. If you are greedy for a few dollars, you will bow down to such immoral people. The Palace Government may be allowing this to happen, but this situation does not suit the Republic of Turkey," he added.

On the other hand, Davutoğlu said the student “made a big mistake,” but his place is not in prison. “(Saying) a sincere apology with a commitment that it will not happen again is enough.”

“Now I would like to ask you, and those who arrest you and put you in prison. Which one should we feel sorry for? For the social climate that causes such immoral images to occur in an educational institution? For our historical figures, especially Atatürk, the founder of our Republic, who should be evaluated in the light of free thought and remembered with respect for their contributions to our history, who are used as instruments of social polarization rather than a common memory? For a 17-year-old young man who committed a grave moral mistake should have been subjected to pedagogical rehabilitation, but was disclosed, arrested, and condemned to an irreparable fate?,” Davutoğlu said and added that the footage of the student was used for a social lynching campaign. 

“We have to act with reason, conscience, science and foresight in the face of this deepening state of insanity,” he added.

A Turkish court on Sept. 20 arrested a 17-year-old high school student over charges of “publicly humiliating a part of the public based on social class, religion, sect, gender, regional difference” and “publicly insulting the memory of Atatürk.”

The move came after the student’s footage spread over social media, stirring a public backlash.