A painting showing the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, eating at a waterside table with a glass of rakı near his plate, has been taken down from a wall in the Turkish Parliament’s restaurant by the parliament speaker, according to a story in the Sözcü daily on Friday.
Rakı, an alcoholic beverage, is considered to be a symbol of secular life by some in Turkey.
The painting was removed during renovations to Parliament following a failed coup attempt on July 15 during which parts of the building were damaged in bomb attacks by the coup perpetrators.
When the renovations were over, the painting, by the famous Turkish artist Yaşar Çallı, was not hung its former place and was replaced by a TV.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chairman Levent Gök criticized the removal of the Atatürk painting, saying: “The parliament speaker’s problem with Atatürk continues. He is either having Atatürk’s paintings removed or changing their places under the pretext of the renovations. Atatürk disturbs them [the government] everywhere.”
Earlier, another painting showing Atatürk in a marshal’s uniform was also taken off a wall in Parliament.
Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman is from the ranks of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) about whose commitment to secularism and Atatürk’s principles there has always been widespread suspicion since the party came to power in 2002.