While criticizing protesters for claiming that a New Year’s Eve attack on a popular nightclub in Istanbul targeted the secular lifestyle in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there has been no systematic threat against anybody’s lifestyle during the 14-year-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule.
“Is there a single person whose lifestyle is under pressure?” Erdoğan asked, saying that there is no one who can say he or she cannot pursue a certain lifestyle. Erdoğan’s remarks came on Wednesday during his 33rd address of muhtars, the lowest ranking elected administrative officials in Turkey.
“Like everyone else, I had criticized scenes that I do not approve of, but I did it as part of my personal freedom of expression. I have never interfered in anybody’s lifestyle by using my power,” Erdoğan stated. He also defended the AKP, although a president is supposed to be impartial, according to the existing constitution.
Erdoğan’s claim that no interference in secular lifestyle has taken place under his rule drew quick criticism on social media.
Thousands of people — including journalists, academics, a comedian, a singer, a fashion designer — in Turkey are currently under arrest for their criticism of the government over charges of alleged terrorism and insulting the president and the Republic of Turkey.