Treating Attacker as a Hero Exposes Moral Deprivation in Turkey’s Politics

Making a Hero Out of an Attacker. The Aftermath of Mob Attack Against Opposition Leader Reveals Moral Corruption in Turkey’s Politics.

Abdullah Ayasun

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(Photo: AFP)

Turkey still reels from the reverberating echoes of a mob attack against the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader at the weekend. No less disturbing was how the government responded to the attack in its aftermath.

The prevarication on the behalf of authorities to condemn the assault and the attacker exposes an emerging flawed political culture devoid of any shred of morality. How to describe the incident itself has become a matter of political controversy. Senior government figures equivocated in their wording and stopped short of outright condemning the attacker and other people who encircled the CHP leader for a possible lynching.

Government supporters saw no scruples in embracing Osman Sarigun, the suspect who punched CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as nothing less than a hero. Thousands poured positive comments on his Facebook profile. They even opened a hashtag “#OsmanAmcayalnızdeğildir” (Uncle Osman Is Not Alone) on Twitter. The suspect, who was released on the condition of judicial supervision after a brief detention, had previously been fired from a truck company over allegations of theft. Reports say he was a member of the ruling AK Party.

Osman Sarigun is detained by gendarmerie forces after public criticism. (Photo: Twitter)

Presidential press advisor Fahrettin Altun felt compelled to rush to the defense of the attackers whom he claimed were unfairly ostracized by the opposition. According to Altun, they simply used their democratic right to protest. Separately, a statement by the Ankara Governor’s Office described the lynch attempt as a “protest by a group of people” aggrieved over the fallen soldier. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu also shifted the blame on Kilicdaroglu. He said he would have suggested him not to go if the CHP leader asked the minister’s opinion.

The not-so-subtle official efforts to downplay the gravity of the situation on the ground warrant further…

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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