Turkey’s main opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Saturday for being photographed with a participant in a racist attack on the funeral of Hatun Tuğluk, mother of jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Aysel Tuğluk, and said Soylu’s move equated to protecting such assailants.
Speaking during an opening ceremony in İstanbul on Saturday, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “There’s no place in politics, morality and life for the person who took that photo.”
“How can a minister take a photo with people who brought Turkey to this present [bad] situation? You are taking a photo with a person who attacked a grave. In a police station, at that. What does that mean? It means that they can attack graves as much as they want. ‘I am your guarantor’,” he said.
Commenting on the incident on Facebook, Soylu said he took the photo with the assailant thinking that he was a neighbor who went to the police station after learning of the minister’s arrival.
Underlining that the necessary steps had been taken against the mob at Tuğluk’s funeral, Soylu said snapping a photo with an attacker will not change that fact and that exaggerated comments about it will only increase public anger.
The body of Hatun Tuğluk, who passed away on Tuesday, was taken to İncek Cemetery in Ankara’s Batıkent district on Wednesday but was removed from the grave after an attack by an ultranationalist group during the funeral in Ankara. The HDP’s Aysel Tuğluk attended the funeral with special permission from Kandıra Prison in Kocaeli province, where she is incarcerated. Some 50 ultranationalists who had gathered in the cemetery attacked the funeral, saying: “We have martyrs in this cemetery. We will not allow terrorists to be buried here.”
Following the attack, the body of Hatun Tuğluk was removed from the grave and later buried in Tunceli province.