[VIDEO] Halkevleri members arrested over call to protect secularism

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Halkevleri members Ayşegül Başar (L) and Hamit Dışkaya

Halkevleri organization members Ayşegül Başar and Hamit Dışkaya, who were detained on Monday morning over a video in which they call on people to protect secularism against the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were arrested by an İstanbul court on Tuesday for alleged “incitement of hatred and hostility,” Cumhuriyet reported.

Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş shared the court decision in a Twitter message on Tuesday.

The Halkevleri activists gave short speeches regarding the attack on the Reina nightclub on Jan. 1, which was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In a video shared on social media Dışkaya says: “From now on we will not let ISIL members or jihadis operate in our neighborhood. There is a flag that must be upheld against bigotry. It is secularism. Secularism means fighting for freedom and fraternity and living in humane conditions. We call on everybody to be soldiers in this struggle. We call on everyone on to hold bigots, fascists and presidential system lovers [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] to account.”

Başar, who was an intern for the Cumhuriyet daily, took part in the demonstrations and made a quick speech as well.

“Those who waged an aggressive campaign over the past week saying Muslims do not celebrate ‘Christmas’ are responsible for this massacre,” Başar said, adding, “The Justice and Development Party [AKP] government, which supports ISIL, is to blame for this massacre.”

“We will not leave this country to a dictator,” Başar also said.

Video footage filmed during the group’s speeches drew the ire of nationalist groups on social media. While pro-government social media users called Başar and other activists traitors, main opposition CHP deputies including party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu urged the government to release her, stating that the group was protesting the government’s tightening grip on secularism.

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