04.01.2017 08:43

Two arrested for calling secularism after Reina massacre

Two activists were arrested, after participating in a speech protesting Islamic State (IS) attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub that killed 39 people and wounded 65 others.
An Istanbul court ordered arrest of Ayşegül Başar and Hamit Dışkaya, participating a speech at a teahouse in the Istanbul neighborhood of Okmeydanı, calling for secularism, in a video on Youtube.

"We say 'enough.' From now on, we won’t allow IS or any reactionary jihadist gang into our neighborhoods" said in the video, as Halkevleri members - including Ayşegül Başar and Hamit Dışkaya - listen in the background.

After the video went viral on social media, a Twitter user denounced it in a tweet posted to the Interior Ministry’s official Twitter account. "Terrorists are inviting people to civil war in Okmeydanı. Stop these traitors" wrote the user, addressing the Interior Ministry.

The tweet received a reply from the ministry, which stated that the person speaking in the video should be identified and the location of the speech found. "The video has been transmitted to anti-terror units. Please identify the person wherever you see him" the reply sent by the Interior Ministry’s official account read.

The ministry’s tweet drew a condemnation on social media and was deleted nearly two hours after it was posted. Lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) slammed the exchange and a hashtag reading “Secularism is not a crime” was launched.

Despite the Interior Ministry deleting its tweet, Halkevleri members Ayşegül Başar and Hamit Dışkaya, who can be seen in the background of the video listening to the speech, were detained by police at her house in the early hours of Monday and later on arrested.

CHP Istanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş released a statement after Başar’s detention, saying she would be held by police for five days. "Why is the Interior Ministry bothered by youths making anti-IS propaganda?" Yarkadaş asked. "They try to catch not the perpetrator of the terror act but those who condemn ISIL and praise secularism" he added.