A court has released on probation Çiğdem B., who while dressed in a burqa had attacked a monument of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, in the northwestern Turkish province of Tekirdağ.
The woman was released despite a prosecutor’s demand that she be arrested since insulting Atatürk is prohibited by law in the country.
The attack was the latest in a series of incidents that have sparked controversy regarding the secular heritage of the founding father of Turkey.
An eyewitness recorded the woman’s actions in video footage where she appears to hit the statue on the foot with an axe. Following reactions from people in the immediate vicinity, the woman hides the axe under her burqa and quickly leaves.
The police who arrived at the scene found slight damage to the statue as well as a written note, the contents of which they did not reveal.
Such incidents surrounding the image of Atatürk as a leader who eliminated the religious order and introduced secular laws in Turkey have recently been on the rise.
Another woman was arrested back in July on charges of insulting Atatürk in a video that she recorded at his mausoleum, and a 21-year-old university student was arrested on Sunday for allegedly insulting Atatürk during the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of his death.
On the other side of this polarization, several videos have gone viral on Turkish social media over the last few days that featured groups of people chanting slogans about shutting down religious schools and the hanging all religious leaders.