Member detained after ministry targets critical youth organization in tweet

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A member of leftist youth organization Halkevleri (People’s Houses) was detained on Monday after the critical Kemalist group was targeted in a tweet from the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Ayşegül Başar was among members who appeared in a Halkevleri video in which the organization called on people to unite against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) following a terror attack on a nightclub in İstanbul on Sunday.

The Turkish Interior Ministry deleted a tweet posted on its official account that sparked outrage on Twitter as it directed its followers to report secular youths criticizing the government and calling on people to unite against ISIL.

The Interior Ministry tweet, saying counterterrorism police have already been informed about youths criticizing the government and asking followers to report other similar people to police, sparked public outrage on social media and was deleted one-and-a-half hours later.

In videos shared on Twitter following the İstanbul nightclub terror attack, youths from the Halkevleri, a secularist institution for promoting public education and Kemalism, address people in coffeehouses in İstanbul asking them to unite against Islamist terrorist groups, such as ISIL, and blame the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for their proliferation in Turkey.

Oya Ersoy, head of Halkevleri, said in a statement on Sunday that they will continue to defend secularism in Turkey despite threats from pro-government circles.

“We will defend life against death and secularism against bigotry. Bigotry kills, secularism makes [people] live,” she said.

At slightly after 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, a man wielding a Kalashnikov rifle reportedly killed a policeman and a civilian outside the entrance to the popular Reina nightclub and blazed his way into the club, randomly shooting at some of the hundreds of revelers bringing in the new year.

Thirty-nine people died at the scene in total, while 69 were injured. Of the 25 male and 14 female victims of the slaughter, seven were Saudi Arabian, two Indian, one from Canada, one from Syria, one from Israel, two Tunisians, four Iraqis, one Lebanese and one from Belgium. Eleven were Turkish citizens.

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