Legal complaint issued over AK Party politician’s hate speech

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The lawyer of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, Nurullah Albayrak, filed a legal complaint in Ankara on Wednesday against ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politician Professor Mazhar BaIlI for his statements inciting hatred against members of the Hizmet movement in particular.

Asking the authorities to take action against the slander and insults voiced by BaIlI, who wrote statements calling for revenge against members of the Hizmet movement, Albayrak said in his written statement that BaIlI had committed the crime of inciting hatred and animosity among people by dividing them into different classes. He also noted that BaIlI had attacked the character of Gulen in some of his tweets.

On Sunday, BaIlI wrote on his Twitter account that people are not satisfied with fighting anymore and wish for vengeance, in reference to the disagreement between the government and the Hizmet movement. Earlier in the week, BaIlI had asked his followers to “report” AK Party members who attend aid events organized by the Hizmet movement.

In an effort to declare all members of the Hizmet movement as potential criminals, when asked to present any concrete evidence of any unlawful action, BaIlI said the existence of each and every member of the Hizmet movement is enough by itself.

The legal complaint of Gulen’s lawyer underlined the hateful content of BaIlI’s arguments and remarks. In reference to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the statement said that according to Article 10 of the ECHR, hate speech that could offend certain individuals or groups does not fall under the protection of the principle of freedom of expression. Since BaIlI called for violence against a certain segment of society, the statement argued that it cannot be considered freedom of expression.

Albayrak added in his statement that BaIlI could provoke certain people due to his status within the party. He is a member of the AK Party’s Central Decision and Administration Board.

Meanwhile, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Özgur Özel, submitted a question in Parliament to be answered by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent ArInç on the same subject.

He asked whether BaIlI’s statements comply with AK Party policies. Referring to Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Özel noted that provoking hatred among different groups of society is subject to a prison term of between one and three years. “Do you think BaIlI’s statement falls under the understanding of a hate crime as defined in the government’s democratization package?” the opposition deputy asked.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)