Turkish actors detained after Erdoğan targeted them

Turkish police on Monday detained veteran actors and comedy pioneers Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen over their statements on television in which they allegedly called for a civil war and coup, Turkish news site Duvar reported.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 22 launched an investigation against actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen, pertaining to their statements at a TV show called "Public Arena" broadcasted by Turkish secularist news channel Halk TV.

’Whoever turned to Russia, except Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, had to leave their seat. Adnan Menderes had an appointment and a coup took place. Similarly, the same thing happened when Süleyman Demirel faced north and a coup took place. Let’s see who’s next,’’ Akpınar said on TV, in an apparent reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey’s improving relations with Russia.

Akpınar stressed that Turkey’s leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its supporters are inciting polarisation in the country.

"The only solution to ridding ourselves of this polarisation is democracy. If we can reach that point, then we can get out of the situation we are in without fighting and chaos. And if we can’t, then maybe they’ll hang the leader by his foot, maybe he’ll die in a cellar after being poisoned or they may experience the horrible ends that other leaders experienced,’’ Akpınar continued.

Following the statements, Erdoğan on Dec. 23 slammed the actors and said it was not their business to "hang" him. "We believe in martyrdom. They are a bunch of useless artists. They will pay the price," Erdoğan added.

"We have done nothing to deserve this. In the whole speech, we neither cited the president nor targeted him. We just tried to describe the context of the implementation of contemporary democracy in our country, " Turkish news site T24 quoted Akpınar as saying, on his way to the courthouse.

Akpınar and Gezen will testify in court on Monday.

They are co-founders of Devekuşu Kabare, a theatre company known for its satire that has a huge following in Turkey.