President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday slammed people who invite Turks to stage street protests like the “Yellow Vests” in France, in apparent reference to Turkey’s main opposition leader and a news presenter, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“There are Yellow Vests in France, and the [Republican People’s Party] CHP is there. The Gezi Park protests took place, and Mr. Kemal [Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP chairman] was also there. They are again in preparation [for such protests]. But you are waiting in vain. We will make you pay a heavy price,” Erdoğan said in a speech at an inauguration ceremony in Denizli.
The yellow vests worn by French protesters have become the symbol of a wave of demonstrations that began in November against a rise in fuel taxes but mushroomed to include a range of demands, including the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of France in the fifth Saturday of Yellow Vest demonstrations on Saturday.
“They are inviting people to take to the streets. What a shame! One of them, an impertinent and impudent man, calls people into the streets from television screens. The judiciary will respond accordingly,” Erdoğan added. “Do you think this is Paris? Everyone learned a lesson from the Gezi incidents.”
Fox TV news presenter Fatih Portakal became the target of pro-government social media users after he presented a segment about the Yellow Vest protests in France on his daily news show last week. Criticizing the Turkish government, he had said that “peaceful protest is a right that cannot be exercised [in Turkey] now because the people live in fear.”
Erdoğan’s statement came three days after a similar warning from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli, whose party remains in a de facto alliance with the Turkish president’s ruling party ahead of the March 31 local elections.
“I am noting in advance that if there are any Yellow Vest terrorism wannabes, they will pay a heavy price for it. Anybody who wears a yellow vest should brace for the consequences. That’s no joke,” Bahçeli said in a written statement on Wednesday.