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Turkish football fans call on gov’t to resign in wake of earthquake tragedy

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Fans from two popular football clubs in Turkey called on the government to resign over the weekend due to what they called the government’s failure to prepare the country for earthquakes in the wake of a tragedy caused by two powerful quakes earlier this month.

İstanbul club Fenerbahçe fans called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been ruling Turkey as a single-party government since 2002, to resign during a home match against Konyaspor on Saturday evening.

“Twenty years of lies and cheating, resign,” Fenerbahçe fans shouted during the match.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP government have come under fire following the twin earthquakes, which hit the country’s south and southeast on Feb. 6, due to what many said was poor handling of the disaster, belated search and rescue efforts and failure to provide basic necessities to the survivors in addition to their failure to prepare the country for temblors as it lies on major fault lines and is frequently struck by deadly earthquakes.

The earthquakes on Feb. 6, which registered magnitudes of 7.8. and 7.5. were the biggest quake disaster in the history of modern Turkey, claiming the lives of more than 44,000 people, according to the most recent official figures.

The fans of Beşiktaş, another İstanbul club, followed suit on Sunday as they called on the government to resign before throwing thousands of stuffed toys onto the pitch for child victims of the powerful earthquakes.

The toys were thrown four minutes and 17 seconds after the match began since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck at 4:17 a.m. on Feb. 6.

Besiktas toy

In response to the anti-government slogans during the Beşiktaş match, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Erdoğan, canceled his Beşiktaş membership and called on club management to prevent such displays or to play matches in empty stadiums.

Broadcaster BeIN Sports cut the sound during the protest.

MHP deputy chairman Semih Yalçın, MHP lawmaker Sermet Atay and MHP secretary-general and lawmaker İsmet Büyükataman also resigned their Beşiktaş membership.

The anti-government slogans in the stadiums also attracted the ire of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who accused the Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş fans of mixing sports with politics.

“People who want to turn sports fields into fields of politics should give an ear to the efforts of the state, nation and civil society organizations here. They should not interrupt our work. If they want to do it, here you go,” Soylu tweeted on Monday from Hatay, one of the provinces hardest hit by the earthquakes.

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