Turkish ruling AKP executives justify mob attack against İmamoğlu
Regarding the attack on Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in Erzurum province on May 7, Family Minister Derya Yanık said that the city has “sensitivities” and that his “flirtation” with the HDP voters caused the attack. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Ömer Çelik argued that İmamoğlu was attacked because he tried to hold the rally in that square without any permission.
The government officials and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) executives has continued to make statements trying to justify the mob attack on Istanbul Mayor and main opposition bloc Nation Alliance’s vice presidential candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in Erzurum province on May 7.
During a rally in Edirne province, President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 8 said, "They are trying to defame our cities by creating incidents with their own provocations. They are looking for a cover for the defeat they will experience by provoking the people and insulting them. They staged the same scenario in the previous elections, but they will not succeed this time. They will not be able to use this nation for their dirty games."
Regarding the attack, Family Minister Derya Yanık told broadcaster Haber Global on May 8 that "Erzurum is a city with certain sensitivities. Unfortunately, after the signs at the (İmamoğlu’s) Van rally and the flirtation with Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voters, it was necessary to assume that Erzurum would show a certain reaction."
Van province is one of the strongholds of the HDP and is mainly populated by Kurdish people. The Nation Alliance organized a rally in the city on May 3, which HDP voters also attended. The AKP officials have been using the rally to criminalize the main opposition bloc by linking them with terrorism, as they have been doing to the HDP for years.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, for example, Ekrem İmamoğlu’s wife Dilek İmamoğlu for making a victory sign during the rally and linked the victory sign to the PKK.
Additionally, AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik on May 8 blamed the CHP executives for the attack for choosing to start the rally in a different area than the designated space and told broadcaster NTV that “If you organize it as you please, there will be chaos between the parties, and there will be problems with the citizens." He also added, “If someone has committed to do something, there will be a thorough investigation."
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also told broadcaster Habertürk on May 8 that "It is regrettable that such an incident occurs" and wished "everyone well," but what happened was due to İmamoğlu's choice of location.
Ruling People’s Alliance partner Great Unity Party’s (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici told broadcaster CNN TÜRK on May 8 that that those who attended İmamoğlu's rally in Erzurum were Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) sympathizers and added that those who carried out the stone attack did not let them act as they please.
Similarly, Soylu on May 7 accused İmamoğlu of being the “provocateur” of the attack.
İmamoglu's Konya rally has also been threatened
İmamoğlu on May 8 also held a rally in central-Anatolian Konya, one of the strongholds of the AKP. Before the rally, two Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) employees were dismissed from their positions after they shared social media posts targeting the rally. One of the posts stated, "Those who want to stone the devil can go to the rally."
Furthermore, AKP Konya Provincial Chair Hasan Nagı on May 8 made a statement about İmamoğlu's rally in Konya and said, "İmamoğlu do not have an official application for the rally, we will all be sad if unwanted things happen later."