Devlet Bahçeli, leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has alleged that recent attacks on an opposition politician and a journalist that took place after they criticized MHP policies were both hoaxes they staged to garner public attention, local media reported on Tuesday.
On Jan. 15 Selçuk Özdağ, a politician from Turkey’s opposition Gelecek (Future) Party, was hospitalized after he was attacked by five unknown assailants in front of his house in Ankara. The nationalist Yeniçağ daily’s Ankara representative Orhan Uğurluoğlu was also injured on the same day when leaving his home in the capital city in an attack by three unknown assailants.
“Those who organize attacks on themselves to attract public attention .. need not look far to find the crime and the criminal. His [Özdağ’s] planting a camera on his balcony and then playing innocent and saying that he was attacked — these are all old tricks,” the MHP leader said during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.
“Saying that the MHP has links to those attacks on a journalist and a politician is a far-fetched allegation. No one can leave us holding the bag in these incidents. They can’t even think it,” Bahçeli added.
Following the attacks, fingers were pointed at the MHP and Turkey’s ultranationalists, known as ülkücüler, as the potential masterminds of the attacks on Özdağ and Uğurluoğlu, who have recently been critical of MHP policies.
Özdağ and Gelecek Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu previously called on Bahçeli to make a statement regarding the attack on the politician.
Davutoğlu, a former heavyweight in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), parted ways with the AKP and established the rival Gelecek Party in December 2019. Özdağ was also a former AKP deputy.
Both Özdağ and Uğurluoğlu, people with nationalist backgrounds, have recently criticized the far-right leader, and Bahçeli, Erdoğan’s ally, is known to be harsher in reacting to criticism coming from nationalist circles.
Days after the attack the MHP leader slammed efforts to hold his party responsible for the attacks, saying that accusations against the MHP were a “conspiracy” while he fell short of condemning the attacks in his statement.
In December another Gelecek Party politician, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, escaped an attack when shots were fired in front of his house in Sakarya. Üstün was in Ankara at the time and is also a former AKP deputy.