A Turkish court on Jan. 1 arrested university student Ege Akersoy for punching a man with the “Tavheed” flag associated with jihadists who was returning from the Free Palestine march organized by the pro-government Turkish Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) in Istanbul.
The flag, often used by the jihadist Islamist groups, represents the Islamic conception of monotheism and features the Islamic declaration of faith (Shahada).
Akersoy said in his deposition that he punched the man in self-defense, after a brief argument. He stated that he was raised with nationalist values, and expected a Turkish citizen to carry the Turkish flag after it was censored by Saudi Arabian officials, and 12 soldiers died in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.
“Aren’t you a Turk, we are in sensitive times,” asked Akersoy according to his deposition, to which the man replied that he was free to carry any flag he wanted.
Traffic police in the area detained Akersoy following the altercation and brought him to the police station. The student was arrested by the court he was referred to on the same day.
Akersoy’s speedy arrest was criticized by various opposition figures. Turkey’s far-right Victory (Zafer) Party head Ümit Özdağ wrote in a social media post that he spoke to the father of Akersoy, and learned that “He was resentful for the recent disrespect towards the Turkish flag and the image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic.” Özdağ added that he would follow up on the case.
Biraz önce yumruk attığı için tutuklananEge Akersoy Yıldız Teknik Üniversitesi 4.sınıf elektrik elektronik mühendisliği öğrencisi imiş. Başarılı bir öğrenci olduğu için burs alıyormuş.— Ümit Özdağ (@umitozdag) January 1, 2024
Ege’nin babası emekli bir subay. Biraz önce kendisi ile görüştüm. Ege’nin hayatı boyunca hiç…
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel stated that the party would never condone violence yet, Akersoy’s arrest was unlawful in an official party statement.