Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has harshly reacted to opposition mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu’s claims that İstanbul is not a safe city, threatening to humiliate him in public, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.
Soylu made the remark at a campaign event in İstanbul where he met with businesspeople in anticipation of Turkey’s upcoming local elections of March 31.
İmamoğlu, who was nominated by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for mayor of İstanbul, had claimed that İstanbul was one of the least safe cities in the world, citing a report in which the largest Turkish metropolis ranked 73rd in terms of safety.
“If you read from a piece of paper that was handed to you without doing any research or making your own observations, someone will embarrass you in return,” Soylu said. “I will do it without any mercy, I will humiliate you if you wrongfully comment about my jurisdiction.”
Soylu’s remarks also targeted Alper Taşk, the CHP’s candidate for Beyoğlu, one of the most central and historic districts of İstanbul, calling him the “local representative of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK].”
Over the last few years, Soylu’s ministry has famously appointed trustees to local governments in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, replacing elected Kurdish mayors on the grounds that they were allegedly affiliated with the PKK.