An unusual investigation was launched into Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, with prosecutors accusing him of acting with disrespect during a visit to a shrine.
İmamoğlu attended a commemoration ceremony in the shrine of Mehmed the Conqueror (Mehmed II) on the 567th anniversary of Istanbul's conquest last year. Mehmed II's wife Gülbahar Hatun's shrine is also at the same yard.
During the ceremony, İmamoğlu was walking around her shrine with his hands behind his back, prompting the Interior Ministry to accuse him of disrespect.
İmamoğlu was asked to testify this week, daily Cumhuriyet columnist Barış Pehlivan said.
Istanbul Municipality spokesperson Murat Ongun confirmed Pehlivan's report, deeming the investigation "beyond comprehension."
Cumhuriyet Gazetesi’nde Barış Pehlivan imzalı köşe yazısında belirtilen bilgiler ne yazık ki DOĞRUDUR.— Murat Ongun (@Mrt_Ongun) May 4, 2021
Niyet okuma odaklı, izandan yoksun yeni bir soruşturma hazırlığı için Başkanımızın ifadesi istenmiştir. pic.twitter.com/hjV64wPa9m
Upon backlash on social media, Interior Ministry spokesperson Mahir Çataklı released a statement, saying that the process is related to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.
"A process was launched by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and the file was sent to us," Çataklı said, adding that the routine procedures are being carried out.
İmamoğlu, who is from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), is one of the figures targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). His decisive win in the Istanbul elections and staunch objection to Erdoğan's canal project have been major contributing factors to their constant targeting.