Duvar English - Reuters
Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation on Feb. 16 into remarks about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders.
Wilders called Erdoğan a terrorist on Twitter on Feb. 15 and urged Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to expel the Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands. He also called for Turkey to be expelled from NATO.
Prosecutors in Ankara launched an investigation into Wilders over posts on Twitter including photographs and written insults against Erdoğan, citing the prosecutor's office.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, is one of Europe's most prominent far-right politicians and has been a key figure in shaping the immigration debate in his country, although he has never been in government.
His comments drew a backlash from Turkish officials.
"This fascist who attacked our President would have been a damn Nazi if he had lived during World War Two. If he were living in the Middle East right now, he would be a Daesh murderer," Ömer Çelik, a spokesman for Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on Twitter, using another name for ISIS.
Cumhurbaşkanımıza saldıran bu faşist, II. Dünya Savaşı yıllarında yaşasa, şimdi lanetle anılan bir Nazi olurdu. Eğer şu anda Ortadoğu’da yaşıyor olsa DEAŞ mensubu bir katil olurdu. Bu çağda ve bu zamanda Hollanda’da yaşıyor ve insanlık düşmanı çirkin bir faşist oldu. https://t.co/HglcCbnwNi— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) February 15, 2021
Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun was another official to slam Wilders.
"No word that Geert Wilders and his merry band of neo-Nazis ever uttered has amounted to anything. The real danger is that seemingly moderate governments and ostensibly responsible policymakers in Europe seem to concur," Altun said on Twitter.
No word that Geert Wilders and his merry band of neo-Nazis ever uttered has amounted to anything.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) February 15, 2021
The real danger is that seemingly moderate governments and ostensibly responsible policymakers in Europe seem to concur.
Wilders was acquitted in a hate speech trial in 2011 for remarks likening Islam to Nazism and calling for a ban on the Quran. In September 2020, he was acquitted by an appeals court of discrimination, although the court upheld a conviction for intentionally insulting Moroccans.
Erdoğan last year filed a separate criminal complaint in Turkey against Wilders over a cartoon image of him captioned "terrorist" and a separate image of a sinking ship with a Turkish flag.
Rutte has criticized Turkish legal action against Wilders, saying the politician was exercising his right to free speech.