Istanbul, Sep 17 () - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he “disapproved” of threatening remarks by a deputy of his party targeting daily Hürriyet journalists.
“I don’t consider such comments right, regardless of who says them. But those remarks did not carry a bad intention. They were more like remarks uttered in a friendly environment by young people who were chatting” Davutoğlu said Sept. 16 during a live interview on private broadcaster NTV.
Hürriyet’s headquarters was physically attacked by protesters twice on two days last week. Less than 48 hours after a Sept. 6 attack by pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) protesters who retreated only after riot police arrived, Hürriyet’s building was attacked again by another group on Sept. 8.
Abdurrahim Boynukalın, an AKP deputy, gave a fiery speech to the members of his party’s youth organization in front of the Hürriyet headquarters on the night of the first attack. On Sept. 15, another video showing Boynukalın speaking to a group of young people surfaced.
“They had never had a beating before. Our mistake was that we never beat them in the past. If we had beaten them...” Boynukalın was heard saying in the video, mocking Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin and columnist Ahmet Hakan for their reactions as approximately 200 assailants smashed the newspaper building’s front windows with stones and clubs.
Davutoğlu said during the NTV program on Sept. 16 that he talked with Boynukalın about the issue. “We should all be careful about such remarks or similar remarks. But generalizing such trivial remarks, accepting them as very deliberate and seeing an entire mindset behind them is also not right” he added.
“We can speak [in the party] to avoid a repeat [of such remarks]. It is not possible to approve them,” the Turkish PM added, while noting that the media should not permit any “provocation.”
“Regardless of the opinion expressed by any person, as long as it is not an insult or a manipulation, all opinions can be expressed,” Davutoğlu said.
All suspects who were detained after the attacks targeting Hürriyet have since been released. Boynukalın was elected to the AKP’s steering committee at the party’s congress on Sept. 12.