Burhanettin Bulut, a lawmaker and member of the CHP, said the attack was the result of long-running provocation from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalistic ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as well as media outlets close to them. “Unfortunately, the danger of further escalation of such hate speech and violence still prevails in the country, especially in rural areas,” he told Arab News.
Kilicdaroglu escaped an assassination attempt by PKK militants three years ago in northwestern Anatolia. In 2014, he was punched by a member of the public in Parliament.
Several commentators have suggested that the ongoing climate of polarization in Turkey, where demonizing opponents of the government as “terrorists” has become the norm, ranks among the main reasons behind Sunday’s attack, after which the CHP called an extraordinary meeting of its members.
On the same day, the pro-government Turkish daily Gunes blamed Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem Imamoglu for the deaths of the four soldiers, running the headline, “Are You Happy, Ekrem?”
Sunday’s attack coincided with a rally held by the new mayor of Istanbul, Imamoglu, to thank the city’s inhabitants. Hundreds of thousand of people reportedly attended.
In June last year, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced the imposition of a ban on CHP officials attending soldiers’ funerals, suggesting that they should instead put in an appearance at the funerals of PKK militants killed by Turkish forces.
“CHP’s contacts with the HDP, and HDP’s policy that doesn’t distance itself from the PKK are all happening before the public eye. Kilicdaroglu should have informed the authorities if he wanted to attend the funeral,” Soylu told a new conference.
“It’s wrong to blame the interior ministry for such incidents while partnering with the political arm of the PKK at the same time,” Soylu added, saying Kilicdaroglu’s party was trying to make political gains from the attack.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, said heated political rhetoric had fueled the attack. “Likely inspired by hate speeches of ruling politicians. This radical polarization must end,” Piri said.