ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been criticized recently for emphasizing the religious and ethnic backgrounds of his political rivals, made offensive remarks concerning people of Georgian and Armenian descent.
During a live interview on the private NTV channel late Tuesday, Erdogan complained that the opposition was carrying out a smear campaign against him by claiming that he was from another ethnic origin.
“They called me a Georgian. Pardon me for saying this, but they said even uglier things: They called me an Armenian!” Erdogan said.
“As far as I have learned from my father and grandfather, I am a Turk,” he added.
His comment that it was ugly to be called an Armenian drew anger on social media, further inflaming tensions days ahead of Sunday’s presidential election where Erdogan is hot favorite to become head of state.
Erdoğan’s comments have found rapid and angry backlash.
CHP deputy Hurşit Güneş filed a criminal complaint against Erdoğan on Wednesday. Güneş announced his plan to take legal action on his Twitter account, saying Erdoğan had violated Article 10 of the Constitution and Articles 122 and 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) against discrimination.
In remarks to show his reaction, Güneş said: “Look at this disgrace. Erdoğan said being Armenian is ugly on NTV. What a shame! Calling a person Armenian, even if it is untrue, is not “ugly.” Seeing this as such is a low form of racism! Erdoğan doesn’t hear what he says. If he becomes president, Turkey will not have only chosen a tyrant, but at the same time a racist.” He also appealed to Turkey’s citizens of Armenian descent not to be offended. “His mind isn’t in the right place,” he said, adding: “The world should know this is a racist person. He has defined the claim that he is Armenian as ‘ugly’ slander. His name is Tayyip Erdoğan.”
He also said Erdoğan’s mentality was what caused the death of journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated by an ultra-nationalist teenager in 2007.
Shortly after announcing his intention on Twitter to file a criminal complaint, Hurşit Güneş went to the Ankara Courthouse and did so.