Opposition leader faces 2nd verbal attack after Erdoğan’s praise for first one

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Turkey’s nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener came under verbal attack as she was addressing locals in Sivas province, the second attack she has faced in the past three months, local media reported on Tuesday.

After a man named Mustafa Etiş on Tuesday shouted at Akşener to “resign” while she was addressing locals in the town square, the İYİ leader smiled and replied, “If you want, I will resign.”

The exchange of words increased tension between Etiş and İYİ Party members, resulting in the intervention of the police.

As police officers moved Etiş and his family away from the scene, he continued to target Akşener by referring to her as a member of “FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, as a terrorist organization, a claim strongly denied by both Gülen and his followers.

According to Turkish media reports, Etiş also argued that there was no poverty in the country, contrary to what Akşener says.

“They are saying people are hungry. Who is having financial difficulties? … She [Akşener] keeps saying people are hungry. There is no such thing,” Etiş shouted as he was led away by police.

Akşener’s media adviser Murat İde later on Tuesday said during a live program that the İYİ leader would file a criminal complaint against Etiş because of his claims that Akşener was a FETÖ member.

“What I am worried about is that such little occurrences may lead to bigger attacks in the future,” İde added.

Akşener also came under verbal attack by a pro-government group in Rize, the hometown of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in May. An altercation erupted between İYİ Party members and the group, prompting police to intervene and Akşener to cut her visit short.

After the incident, Erdoğan said the people of Rize taught Akşener a lesson by verbally attacking her, adding that she can expect more of the same.

“They gave ‘Ms Daughter-in-Law’ a good lesson in Rize. They did what they had to do. This was just the beginning; let’s see what else happens,” Erdoğan said, referring to Akşener, whose husband is from Rize and is thus called a daughter-in-law of the city.

The verbal attack in Rize came shortly after Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) targeted her for comparing the president to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Erdoğan also filed a lawsuit against her.

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