In 2017, an angry crowd in Ankara blocked the funeral of the mother of Aysel Tugluk, deputy chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) party. As a result, her mother Hatun Tugluk's body had to be removed from the grave and buried in another city. This case and that of Kiricdaroglu have once more brought the issue to the fore.

A sign of the times

Critics say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs to act. But Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, also present at the soldier's funeral, even expressed sympathy for the mob during the violent outburst: "Dear friends, you have made your point clear, please go home now," he said.

Sociologist Besim Can Zirh from the Technical University of Ankara views mob rule as a "tried and tested tool" of the Turkish government in times of crisis. The anti-Alevi sentiment before the massacres in Kahramanmaras and Sivas was motivated by the fact that the minority was making progress establishing themselves socially and politically.

Zirh believes that in secular groups in Turkey similar situations are being experienced. The lynching policy has three purposes: "It intimidates aspiring social groups, it serves as an outlet for political hatred of the population and it sends a warning: do not dare deviate from the life path we have planned for you."

Burial of HDP politician Aysel Tuglukʹs mother, Hatun Tugluk (photo: DHA)
Violence and lynch law on the increase: in 2017, an angry crowd in Ankara blocked the funeral of the mother of Aysel Tugluk, deputy chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) party. As a result, her mother Hatun Tugluk's body had to be removed from the grave and had to be buried in another city

Sezgi Durgun from Marmara University in Istanbul agrees that mob rule occurs mainly during volatile periods: "Such incidents show how people have internalised violence," adding that "the most dangerous aspect of mob rule is that a single incident can lead to collective morality and spread an assumption that the rule of law no longer applies."

According to Durgun, the lynching attempt illustrates that populism and heated debate now culminate in violent polarisation. So, he believes, it's hardly surprising that citizens, fuelled by nationalistic sentiment, take the law into their own hands.

Academic Nagehan Tokdog agrees – she also sees the climate of uncertainty as a decisive factor. She believes that political instability and the economic crisis are responsible for the increase of aggression against various groups.

But Tokdog also blames the Turkish mentality for the fact that there are more and more incidents, saying that Turkey is a country that only ever reluctantly concedes mistakes and crimes in society. "We cannot admit that such a thing is a disgrace. We just do not denounce acts like this. On the contrary, we kiss the fists of those who punch."

Kissed for punching

Tokdog is referring to bizarre images that did the rounds on social media in the wake of the incident at the funeral: one person who managed to punch Kilicdaroglu in the face was shown having his hand tenderly kissed after hitting the politician.

While academics may use the "Turkish mentality" or a phase of political insecurity to explain the attack on the opposition leader, many others blame Erdoganʹs AKP, even if the ruling party immediately distanced itself from the incident by saying "the AKP is against any form of violence."

However, in the local elections over a month ago, Erdogan repeatedly accused Kilicdaroglu of supporting the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is considered a terrorist organisation.

This polarising rhetoric showed its true face in the Kilicdaroglu incident – as has since been revealed, there were also some AKP supporters among the violent mob.

Burcu Karakas

© Deutsche Welle 2019

More on this topic
In submitting this comment, the reader accepts the following terms and conditions: Qantara.de reserves the right to edit or delete comments or not to publish them. This applies in particular to defamatory, racist, personal, or irrelevant comments or comments written in dialects or languages other than English. Comments submitted by readers using fantasy names or intentionally false names will not be published. Qantara.de will not provide information on the telephone. Readers' comments can be found by Google and other search engines.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.