Ruling Party’s Embrace of Attacker Is a Message to Future Recruits

The treatment of the attacker as a hero is a message to other government supporters. They would not be alone if they do the same — attacking opposition figures.

Abdullah Ayasun

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Only a day after I wrote an extensive piece about the treatment of a suspect, who attacked the main opposition party leader at a soldier’s funeral on Sunday, as a hero, unpleasant details continue to emerge.

Osman Sarigun received a hero’s welcome after his release. An official from the ruling AK Party visited him to kiss his hand, a traditional act that shows one person’s reverence and respect for older members of the society. A hashtag was opened to express support for the Uncle Osman, as AK Party supporters call him. The ruling party circles almost came closer to declare him a national hero, only to the dismay of the opposition. Osman Sarigun, as this piece pointedly argues, has become a national figure of extreme fragmentation and polarization in the society.

Metin Kulunk, a close associate of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former lawmaker from the ruling party, also called Sarigun to convey well-wishes after he was briefly detained by security forces for punching CHP leader.

Kulunk, one of the senior figures of the governing party, did not mask his opposition to terminating Sarigun’s party membership after media reports suggested that the AK Party mulls expelling the attacker from the party.

The attitude toward Fatma Basaran, who also came to the public spotlight after calling for the “burning of the house” where the CHP leader was kept for safety against the attackers, was no less disturbing. After a brief…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun