There have recently been continuous attacks on statues of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, in various provinces from Zonguldak in the Black Sea region to Şanlıurfa in the southeast, which experts consider as motivated by provocation targeting the peaceful environment in society.
The attack on the Atatürk statue in the southern province of Mersin was protested by 200 people on Aug. 30. People holding Turkish flags and posters of Atatürk gathered in front of the statue to condemn the incident in the Anamur district. Members from political parties such as the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Vatan Party (VP) joined the protests.
Commenting on the recent attacks, Vahap Coşkun, an academic from Dicle University's Faculty of Law Department, told Daily Sabah that the consecutiveness of the assaults on the Atatürk statues in different provinces is noteworthy. Coşkun said the same pattern of incidents and the recent increase of these kinds of attacks bear further implications that they were provocative acts aiming to cause unrest.
The statue in the yard of a public hospital in Anamur was attacked on Aug. 24 by a man who was then set upon by civilians prior to his detention by police.
A similar incident occurred in the central province of Eskişehir where a man spray-painted an Atatürk statue. The man painted a green "X" over the written statement at the base the statue in front of the municipality building, which says: "I do not leave behind any verse, dogma, or stereotyped rules as moral inheritance. My moral inheritance is science and reason."
Similar attacks statues of Atatürk occurred in the provinces of Istanbul, Zonguldak and Şanlıurfa.
"The Turkish public is aware of the fact that the assaults have the intention of provocation, and therefore they respond to the attacks in a reasonable way," Coşkun said.
Explaining that there is no impunity regarding these crimes, Coşkun said that "it is relieving for the public to see that the attackers receive their punishments."
In the case in Şanlıurfa on July 30, a peddler defaced a statue of Atatürk with a sickle. The attacker, Mehmet Malbora, said during his questioning that he used drugs on the day of the attack. The court ruled that he be sentenced to prison.
Commenting on the incidents, Ekrem Kızıltaş, head of the Turkish Media Association, said: "Most of the attackers in the incidents were people who have psychological or mental problems and the rest of them conducted the attacks with the purpose of provocation."
Kızıltaş pointed out that throughout history there has been a tendency to attribute these kinds of attacks to conservative people despite the fact that Atatürk is valued and respected by the whole Turkish nation.
Kızıltaş also said that the attackers targeting the statues of Atatürk will not reach their provocative aims because reasonable people would see the underlying reasons for the assaults.
Meanwhile, Republican People's Party (CHP) Samsun province head Tufan Akcagöz recently commented on the assaults, claiming that the stance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is responsible for these attacks.
Akcagöz also said that the country has moved away from science and reason, which has laid the basis for the attacks.
Warning against the negative repercussions of such incidents, Kurtuluş Tayiz, a columnist for the Akşam daily, said that the attacks should not be used as a political tool.
Tayiz claimed that some political parties, namely the CHP, use the attacks on the statues as part of their political discourse. "The aim of these provocative acts is to polarize society, and therefore, political parties should act in a sensitive way in order to avoid negative results," he said.