The nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party’s provincial office in İstanbul was targeted by an unidentified attacker who fired shots at the party building days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened Meral Akşener, the party’s leader, Turkish media outlets reported on Friday.
According to Turkish media reports, two bullets hit the building in Zeytinburnu at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, with one of them going through a window and lodging in an armchair in the office.
Following the attack, police secured the building and surrounding area and started an investigation into the incident.
Buğra Kavuncu, a chief advisor to Akşener and the İYİ Party’s former İstanbul provincial chairman, tweeted that the incident was a result of hate language, insults and threats targeting Akşener and her party.
İYİ Parti İstanbul İl Başkanlığımız kurşunlandı.
2023 Türkiye'sinde; nefret dilinin, hakaretlerin, "beni kendinle uğraştırma" tehditlerinin sonucu budur.
Bu ülkenin en büyük beka sorunu, bu nefret dilini yaygınlaştıran zihniyettir!
Her şeye rağmen yılmayacağız. pic.twitter.com/nmmviSSQhf
— Buğra Kavuncu (@SBugraKavuncu) March 31, 2023
“Watch out for us. My first name is Tayyip, my last name is Erdoğan. … You will address me accordingly when speaking, and don’t make me have to deal with you,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview on March 29.
His threat came after Akşener criticized him during a party meeting, saying, “Just go [and] look in a mirror, Mr. Recep. Do you think what you’re doing is ruling this country?”
Following the president’s threat, Akşener told him to drink “some chamomile tea” in the evening to relax since he seems very nervous in his last days as president.
Giderayak seni çok gergin gördüm Recep Bey.
— Meral Akşener (@meral_aksener) March 29, 2023
Akşener arrived at the party’s İstanbul building soon after the attack and spoke to the press, saying she was threatened and her party was attacked because of her gender.
“All kinds of insults and filth that would never be directed at a male politician were directed at me. It happened because I’m a woman. If this happened to me — a female politician — what couldn’t happen to other women and girls?” Akşener said, urging women in Turkey to vote for her party and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint opposition presidential candidate, to end violence targeting women.
“This is not how a president acts. Our party was attacked because of the threat made by Mr. Recep,” the İYİ leader added, blaming President Erdoğan for the attack.
She also challenged Erdoğan in a tweet to “come [to the fight] himself” rather than having the İYİ party office shot at by people who take Erdoğan’s threats as “orders.”
Devri iktidarınızda; evime, dava arkadaşlarıma yönelen tüm saldırılar cezasız kalmıştı.
Bugün de İstanbul İl Başkanlığımıza silahlı saldırı düzenlendi Recep Bey!
Tehditlerini vazife bilerek üzerimize gelen kurşunları çek; eğer geleceksen, sen gel!
— Meral Akşener (@meral_aksener) March 31, 2023
Akşener, one of the few senior female politicians in Turkish politics, was Turkey’s first female interior minister in the 1990s. After disagreeing with Erdoğan’s far-right ally Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), she and several other senior politicians established the İYİ Party.
İYİ is Turkey’s fourth largest political party and is allied with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) among four other parties under the Nation Alliance, challenging President Erdoğan’s 21-year-rule in upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.
Meanwhile, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu condemned the attack in a tweet, saying that he expects the perpetrators to be caught and brought to justice immediately.
“I talked to Mrs. Meral just now. She’s a strong leader. … You can’t scare her like this,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
Az önce Sayın @meral_aksener ile görüştüm. Meral Hanım güçlü bir liderdir, Asena’dır, böyle korkutamazsınız. Faillerin derhal yakalanmasını ve yargı önüne çıkarılmasını bekliyorum.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) March 31, 2023