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İstanbul mayor defends spouse’s attendance at jailed Kurdish leader’s play

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İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Tuesday reacted to criticism directed at his wife over her attendance at a play written by jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Speaking to journalists during a visit to a district office, İmamoğlu expressed support for his spouse Dilek İmamoğlu’s choice to see “Devran” (fortune), which was based on a book by Kurdish leader Demirtaş, who has been imprisoned on terrorism-related charges since November 2016.

“My wife is a well-educated Turkish woman who knows where to go,” he told journalists. “She is capable of interpreting [the circumstances of] the country and the world.”

“I have never engaged in patriotic demagoguery,” he said. “I believe women will make the greatest contribution to this country’s unity and fraternity. I wish men would talk less.”

His remarks were arguably a rebuke to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who on Monday slammed Dilek İmamoğlu as well as other female opposition figures without naming them, for seeing the play.

Dilek İmamoğlu has watched the play along with jailed Demirtaş’s spouse, Başak Demirtaş, and Kurdish politicians.

Soylu is known for his hardline stance towards Kurdish politics as his ministry removed more than 30 elected Kurdish mayors from office in 2019 alone.

Turkish government officials often accuse Kurdish politicians of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

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