AK Party politician sparks hatred against Hizmet movement

In yet another example of increasing hate speech by the government, academic and member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Central Decision and Administration Board (MKYK) Mazhar Bağlı on Sunday called for revenge to be exacted against the Hizmet movement on social media.

Professor Bağlı, who serves at Yıldırım Beyazıt University, wrote on his Twitter account that fighting will not quench the anger of the people after this point and that people would “seek revenge,” in reference to a row between the government and the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Targeting members of the Hizmet movement, Bağlı wrote that “people want life turned into hell for those who turned life into hell for others,” implying that the Hizmet movement had made things difficult for the government. His statements were a form of support for one of his followers who had asked for “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” in the government’s fight against the Hizmet movement.

Reactions against Professor Bağlı grew after he had an exchange on Twitter with users who confronted his arguments. When asked if he had any concrete evidence of any crimes committed by the Hizmet movement, Bağlı said the “existence of each and every member” of the movement is evidence in and of itself.

Evaluating Bağlı’s inflammatory statements, lawyers told the Bugün daily on Tuesday that his remarks are considered hate speech. Kemal Tanrısever, president of the Boğaziçi Lawyers Association, said the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) considers it a crime to incite hatred against people. According to him, Bağlı is stirring up unrest by targeting a certain group of people.

Law and Life Association President Mehmet Kasap said hate crimes have become more common lately, adding that Bağlı’s remarks are concrete proof of this.

Stating that according to Article 216 of the TCK, pitting one section of society against another is a crime punishable by imprisonment between one and three years, Kasap described the remarks as unfortunate.

In response to criticism from Twitter users to his hateful remarks, Bağlı wrote, “Did extra opium come from the United States or Israel?” implying that members of the Hizmet movement use opium.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously called members of the movement “Hashashins” in reference a group in history that became famous for committing assassinations under the influence of opium.