Opposition leaders rebuke Erdoğan over failure to condemn attack on opposition politician

The leaders of two of Turkey’s opposition parties on Wednesday blasted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his failure to condemn an armed attack on an opposition politician.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Wednesday urged both Erdoğan and his junior coalition partner, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, to publicly denounce Friday’s attack on opposition Future Party Vice Chair Selçuk Özdağ.

“Mr. Erdoğan needs to clearly condemn the attack before the public and ask for the perpetrators to be tried in court,’’Diken news site cited Kılıçdaroğlu as saying, during a visit to a district mayor of northwestern Kocaeli province.

Police have arrested two people in connection with an armed attack on Özdağ in front of his Ankara home on Friday. Video footage of the attack emerged on social media yesterday, showing a total of five assailants wielding guns and sticks attacking the Future Party leader as he attempted to get into his car.  

Turkish media on Tuesday reported that one of the arrested suspects is a member of the MHP-linked neo-nationalist Grey Wolves group, confirming suspicions that the attack was linked to the far-right party.

Kılıçdaroğlu also called on MHP leader Bahçeli to join Erdoğan in condemning the attack.

The pair should “make a public statement, expressing their regret and stressing that they are against violence. Their silence means that they are encouraging violence. We cannot accept this,’’ Kılıçdaroğlu added.

The leader of Turkey’s opposition Islamist Felicity Party, Temel Karamollaoğlu, also blasted Erdoğan over his silence on the attack.

"The member of an opposition part is hospitalised and the president remains silent. Who are we going to trust?’’ Diken news site cited Karamollaoğlu as saying. 

Erdoğan cannot and should not remain silent in the face of such attacks, the Felicity Party leader said.