Court fines columnist Bagdat for insulting Ankara mayor

Bagdat responded to the court decision on Monday in a series of tweets: “A fine was imposed. Melih Gokcek’s lawyer told me during the trial that he also has Armenian friends. I swear! :). I lost the case. The court took the side of other ‘Armenian.’ What a shame! :(”

The indictment against Bagdat, filed by Ankara public prosecutor Mehmet Tastan in March, stated that Twitter user @haykobagdat wrote, “Melih Gokcek is a disgusting man.”

Continuing to comment on the court’s decision on Monday, Bagdat wrote: “My last words on this matter: Gokcek is committing a hate crime by calling everyone ‘Armenian’. This is disgusting behavior. And at the same time, Gokcek is an ‘Armenian…’”

The confrontation between the two began in March, when Bagdat called Gokcek an Armenian on Twitter.

Bagdat criticized the way Gokcek used the ethnic descriptor as an insult, explaining: “He accuses his political opponents, voters who attend the rallies of his political opponents, journalists and basically everyone who angers him of being Armenian. This accusation is used to prove that by being Armenian, by having Armenian roots, they are traitors because all the problems that exist in this country stem from Armenians. There have been several examples of this.”

In March, Gokcek asked if the leader of the German political party The Greens, German-Turkish politician Cem Ozdemir, was Armenian, in response to Ozdemir’s call for Turkey to recognize the killings of Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. “I am asking the deputy of the German Greens just out of curiosity…Please answer, Cem Ozdemir…Are you of Armenian origin?” Gokcek posted on Twitter.

Bagdat responded to this by calling Gokcek an Armenian. “I wrote that Gokcek is Armenian in the way that he uses the term; whatever Melih Gokcek felt toward Cem Ozdemir that led him to call him Armenian is how I felt about Melih Gokcek at that moment. … And to be honest, I had some fun with it,” Bagdat said on Monday.

“We live in a place where people have had their businesses attacked, where they have been killed and where people have even been massacred because of their ethnic roots,” he stated, adding: “We have children here that have been branded ‘Armenian’ because of the disgusting attitudes of people like Melih Gokcek. Their lives are put in danger. Therefore, this was a good opportunity to interpret these attitudes.”

Earlier, Bagdat also filed a suit for damages against Gokcek for using hate speech and racist speech, and noted that if he wins the TL 10,000 he is suing for, he plans to donate the money to a foundation established in the name of Ali İsmail Korkmaz, a 19-year-old university student who was fatally beaten by a group of policemen and civilians during the Gezi Park protests of 2013.