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Dec 15 2018

Erdoğan blasts news anchor for questioning possibility of peaceful protests in Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday blasted television news anchor Fatih Portakal over his questioning whether it was possible to hold a peaceful protest in Turkey without fear of the government, independent news site T24 reported.

“Some morally deficient person is calling people to take to the streets. What a low life. The judiciary will respond to this,‘’ Erdoğan said, in an apparent reference to Portakal. ‘’What are you doing? Is this Paris? Everyone got their lesson during the Gezi Park protests. And in the July 15 [2016 coup attempt]. They will pay a heavy price for this.‘’

Fox TV news anchor Portakal last week said that people are afraid to take the streets to protest, while criticising Ankara’s response to the ongoing Yellow Vest protests in France, labelling the police intervention as heavy-handed. Erdoğan has said that the ongoing “yellow vests” protest movement reveals Europe’s failure in democracy, human rights and freedom.

‘’Do you think we can do it? How many people will be able to take the streets without fear? For the sake of God, can you tell me how many people would demonstrate? They are trying to discourage social opposition and keep it under pressure. It is a most natural right, but cannot be exercised. Whether it’s France or Turkey, it doesn’t really matter all that much,‘’ Portakal said on Fox TV.

Portakal’s statements have drawn ire in pro-government circles with a group of people filing a complaint against him.

Ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik has said he does not see calls to protest as innocent while the AKP-ally leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli last week said that anyone in Turkey that emulates the yellow vest protests in France and other European countries will pay a heavy price.