Local media: city council workers behind attack on liberal theologian

An attack on a prominent Turkish liberal theologian during a book at the first Kayseri Book Fair may be linked to local authorities, a report in local newspaper Kayseri Yeni Haber said on Friday.

İhsan Eliaçık, a controversial figure who says that many Islamic traditions are based on “made-up” hadiths, was forced to leave the venue after a group of around 20 men began shouting insults at him and trying to push past riot police.

Kayseri Yeni Haber said when fair sponsors Kayseri City Council heard that Eliaçık had been invited by the organisers, it threatened to send police to forcibly remove him.

The newspaper said the main instigator of the mob, Mehmet Yangın, worked at city council-owned firm KAYTUR A.Ş.

Yangın, it said, had called Aytekin Demir, the head of Cleaning Works at the Kocasinan District Council, and arranged to round up some friends and meet in front of Kayseri’s World Trade Centre building where the fair was being held.

Following the attack, the book fair retroactively cancelled the Kayseri-born Eliaçık’s invitation, leading many publishers to close up their stalls in protest.

The fair had previously been criticised for refusing to host some left-leaning publishing houses.