MHP leader Bahçeli plays down attacks against Asian tourists in Istanbul
by Daily Sabah with Agencies
ISTANBULJul 08, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Agencies
Jul 08, 2015 12:00 am
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli played down the attacks on Asian tourists by young party supporters who protested China's restrictions on Uighur Turks by saying both have slanted eyes and thus could not be "differentiated."
"It does not matter that Koreans were recently targeted by ultranationalists on the supposition that there were Chinese because both ethnicities "have slanted eyes" Bahçeli said during an interview with daily Hürriyet. He claimed that the attackers were young people and could easily be dragged to do things.
Bahçeli also said, "It is easy to provoke a few people," refusing to condemn the recent wave of ultranationalist attacks in Turkey.
Insisting on the difficulty of distinguishing between small differences, he gave an example from music beside the racial one.
"For instance, the Grey Wolf gesture [of Turkish nationalists] is very similar to the heavy metal gesture. There is a small difference between the two," he said.
As anti-China protests spread around Turkey, Beijing issued a travel warning to its citizens on July 7, stressing that some tourists had been "attacked and harassed."
Bahçeli's remarks stirred a heated debate on Turkish social media on July 8 with some commentators claiming that they amounted to racism, while others sarcastically shared pictures to guide Turks in recognizing the facial features of various Asian countries.
Istanbul police launched an investigation after a MHP-linked youth organization reportedly attacked a group of Korean tourists in Sultanahmet Square on July 4, following a march to protest China's restrictions on the religious freedom of ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Three days before the attack, a Chinese restaurant in Istanbul was vandalized by ultranationalists, although its owner was a Turk and its cook was a Uighur.
In January, Turkey has accepted over 500 Uighur Turks, who sought refuge in the country.
East Turkistan, known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, is located in northwest China. Uighurs have long suffered from human rights abuses, with 26.3 million people being killed between 1949 and 1965 and 8.7 million people since 1965.
About 35 million people have died because of the Chinese army's oppression or famine. Wearing a headscarf in public, including on public transportation and when getting married in a religious ceremony, were banned in 2014, with fines of about $353 for wearing a headscarf in public.
Radical behavior is banned and the Chinese define not drinking alcohol, not smoking and avoiding eating non-halal food as radical behavior.
According to a Uighur Human Rights Project report, 700 people were killed due to political activities last year. The number of those arrests increased 95 percent compared to the previous year, reaching 27,000.