Ömer Çelik, the spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), suggested that actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen’s remarks about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a TV show constitute hate speech and therefore a “crime against humanity,” the T24 news website reported on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the AKP Central Executive Board, Çelik touched on a controversy surrounding the latest episode of “Halk Arenası” (People’s Arena) on Halk TV during which the two actors made fascism-related remarks allegedly in reference to Erdoğan.
“It is not criticism to suggest that an elected president be hanged by his feet or killed in a cellar. Those remarks amount to hate speech, a crime against humanity, unacceptable both morally and politically,” Çelik said.
The two actors were detained on Monday morning after they were verbally targeted by Erdoğan on Sunday. Following their questioning by a prosecutor and appearance before a judge, they were released on probation including a ban from travelling overseas.
On Wednesday it was reported that Halk TV was fined TL 80,000 ($15,000) and prohibited from broadcasting five episodes of “Halk Arenası” by Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) for allegedly provoking hatred and enmity among society and exceeding the limits of criticism.