Interior ministry disallows ‘disrespect’ probe against Istanbul mayor

Turkey’s Interior Ministry will not allow for an investigation into İstanbul’s opposition Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for allegedly disrespecting the tomb of Ottoman sultan, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Monday.

Turkish prosecutors last weeks launched an investigation into Imamoğlu over his "disrespectful" behaviour during a visit to the shrine or Mehmed the Conquerer (Fatih Sultan Mehmed) after the opposition mayor was pictured with his hands folded behind his back during the visit last year. 

The ministry’s decision is set to be communicated to the relative authorities and will be finalised, Hürriyet said, and if there are no appeals or the Council of Sate rejects any appeal of the decision.

The decision by the ministry follows remarks by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who last week said last week that İmamoğlu’s clasping his hands behind his back during the visit constituted a “criminal act,” but he would not be green lighting the probe. 

İmamoğlu became a figurehead for Turkey's political opposition by winning the election for Istanbul mayor in 2019. His victory ended 25 years of rule in the megacity by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ruling Justice and Development Party and its Islamist predecessors.