Former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has criticized pro-government Twitter users and dailies that have launched a defamation campaign against him after he recently criticized a government-orchestrated witch hunt against the Gülen movement, adding that he stands by his statement in a live broadcast on CNN Türk on Friday night.
“During the two-hour live broadcast, I talked about some of what I had experienced in the past. I offered solutions to problems that Turkey faces and will face in the future. I still stand by every single word I said,” Arınç said in a post on his Twitter account on Monday.
“After the broadcast, those who have launched a defamation campaign against me through media outlets, social media and other means might lose their passion. Because the public will just laugh away this defamation campaign. … During my career, I have always sided with God and fought against injustice and unfairness. You can fight against someone. You can even hate them. But, still, one is required to stay within the principles of a state of law. If someone attacks others or puts them behind bars without any solid evidence, the only thing I can do is to side with the latter, as I have always done,” Arınç stated.
Talking to prominent Turkish journalist Taha Akyol in a live broadcast on CNN Türk, the former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy said most operations targeting the Gülen movement do not comply with the law, adding that he, a former lawyer, wishes he could put on the robe worn by lawyers again to defend those victimized by the operations against the “parallel structure,” a term invented by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to vilify people affiliated with the Gülen movement.
The Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, is a religious community inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fetullah Gülen.
Arınç also claimed that he personally knows that President Erdoğan knew about the blueprint for a resolution to Turkey's decades-old Kurdish issue. The blueprint, known as the “Dolmabahçe Consensus,” was announced after talks between the government and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in February of last year.
President Erdoğan earlier claimed he was not informed about the blueprint before the meeting and directed criticism at the Dolmabahçe meeting.
“I will never accept the term ‘Dolmabahçe Consensus.' There can be no such thing. Why? Because the government is here and a political party there. Who is reaching a consensus with whom, on what and for what purpose?” Erdoğan told reporters after Eid al-Fitr prayers in İstanbul last year, insisting that any consensus that would affect the future of the country should come from Parliament. He claimed that he was not informed about the blueprint before the meeting.
Following Arınç's remarks, pro-AK Party Twitter users, columnists and journalists attacked the politician on social media. Hilal Kaplan, a columnist for the pro-government Sabah daily, called the former deputy prime minister “Lawrence of Manisa” in her tweet, referring to T. E. Lawrence, a British scholar, writer and soldier who mobilized the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in World War I and became known as “Lawrence of Arabia.” Manisa is Arınç's city of birth. Kaplan's tweet continued, “We do not take political corpses into account.”
Arınç quickly became a trending topic on Twitter after the program, with primarily AK Twitter users calling him a traitor. The users have insulted, targeted and profiled prominent political and social figures who do not embrace the ruling AK Party's ideals and practices.
Pro-government daily Güneş called Arınç “Robed Bülo” on its front page, referring to his remarks that he would like to wear his lawyer's robe again. “Bülo” is a shortened version of his first name and often used by those living in rural areas.
Published on Today's Zaman, 1 February 2016, Monday