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State of emergency gives Turkish police license to harass, journalist claims

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“Is the state of emergency in place to give police the right to threaten people wearing clothes they don’t like?” journalist İrem Afşin complained on her Twitter feed as an example of how the Turkish public has been suffering from harassment by the police under a state of emergency in effect since a failed coup in July 2016.

According to Afşin, police officers stopped her on Monday saying “Miss, your clothes are suspicious.” She realized that the policeman was referring to a “puşi,” a black and white checkered scarf worn in Kurdish provinces.

When she insisted that there were no restrictions under the law on wearing that article of clothing, the officer asked if she was a lawyer. “I am a journalist,” she responded. “Now it’s clear,” policeman said.

She claimed that after the police officers let her go, one of them shouted at her from behind, saying, “Be careful, someone may harm you in a corner!”

In December, police forces raided a coffeehouse in the Başakşehir district of İstanbul, harassing customers by making them stand in front of a wall, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

In September 2016 a freelance journalist told the Sözcü daily that a policeman stopped her on the way to the airport and that she experienced ill-treatment. After she protested his behavior, the officer said: “There is a state of emergency in effect. I can do whatever I want,” she said.

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