Thousands of people have marked May 1 International Workers’ Day in Turkey, with police detaining dozens of protesters during the events.The official demonstrations in Istanbul were held in the Bakırköy district after the authorities banned celebrations from being held in Taksim Square. The police presence was heavy across the city, with helicopters buzzing overhead. Strict security measures were taken during the event and control points were set on the roads leading to the area. The police searched the demonstrators as well as the banners they carried.
Some 130 illegal rifles and 30 pistols were discovered during a raid on a shop selling circumcision clothes in Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa district late on March 27. Bayrampaşa police found unlicensed pump rifles when carrying out examinations on weapons vendors in the district. The police then tracked down the owner of the vendor and determined that illegal arms sales were occurring. After two months of technical and physical surveillance, police staged an operation on a shop selling circumcision clothes late on March 27, seizing 130 rifles and 30 pistols.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the top EU court of commencing a struggle between the “Christian cross and the Muslim crescent” following a ruling that allows companies to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols. “Where is the liberty of religion? They have commenced a struggle between the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation than this. I am saying this clearly: Europe is heading toward the days just before World War II”,Erdoğan said March 16 at a rally in Sakarya. The European Court of Justice ruled on March 14 to allow companies to ban employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf, “but only as part of prohibitions including other religious and political symbols”.
Turkey will intensify its efforts against racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia on all international platforms, especially at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as Turkey’s government is currently the term president, President RecepTayyipErdoğan said March 14. “This matter is not a matter merely for Turkey. This fascism that shows its dirty face is negatively impacting all Muslims and foreigners living in Europe”, he said at a Doctor’s Day meeting. Erdoğan called on Turks, Muslims and foreigners living in Germany and the Netherlands not to vote for parties that espouse anti-Turkey policies. In a new attack against the Dutch in their spat, Erdoğan also held the Netherlands responsible for Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating an Islamic State Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cell known as the “Dokumacılar” since a suicide attack killed two U.S. citizens and two others on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on March 19, 2016, according to revelations from a case file at the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Five suspects from the attack were put on trial by the Istanbul 23rd Court of Serious Crimes in connection with the attack.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has warned Greece not to try the country’s patience amid fresh tension between the two countries over remarks by Greek Foreign Minister NicosKotzias, which he described as “provocative.” Çavuşoğlu’s remarks follow the latest row between himself and his Greek counterpart, who previously criticized the Turkish top brass’ visit to the long-disputed Kardak islets in the Aegean Sea. He also advised Kotzias to closely follow developments from Turkey in its fight against terror inside the country and abroad and not to mistake the abilities of the Turkish Armed Forces. The islets, named Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish, are two small uninhabited rocks in the Aegean Sea, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey. The two countries nearly went to war over the islets in 1996 in an escalation that resulted in both sides landing soldiers on an islet each. The minister also refuted claims that Ankara wanted to benefit from Athens’ economic weakness, noting that the country encouraged millions of Turks to visit Greece every year and also limited its activities in the Aegean for years despite all kinds of provocation. The number of Turkish citizens who have illegally entered Greece since the attempted takeover now stands at 100, including the eight ex-soldiers who fled to the country in a stolen helicopter hours after orchestrating the coup and requested asylum. Ankara has repeatedly requested the extradition of the eight men, promising they would get fair trials upon return. However, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against their extradition in January
Selahattin Demirtas, the arrested co-chair of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), has requested his release from jail in a petition written to the Eighth Heavy Penal Court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Demirtas, who is currently jailed in the northwestern province of Edirne, stated in the petition that he was arrested with “an exaggerated and non-proportional raid aimed at creating a political sensation”. “We have no doubt that the [arrests of HDP lawmakers] are being directed from a center” he said, noting that 31 summaries of proceedings were prepared for him and 11 of the prosecutors who prepared them had themselves been arrested for being members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), believed to have been behind Turkey’s failed July 2016 coup attempt. “My indictment was increased to 501 pages and the sentence being sought for me was determined as 142 years in order to create a negative perception in the public. They wanted to create the impression that my arrest was necessary” Demirtas added. The HDP co-chair said in his petition that his right to a fair trial was violated and his rights stemming from being a deputy were seized from him through his arrest. At present a total of 11 HDP figures, including Demirtas and the HDP’s other co-chair, Figen Yüksekdag, remain in prison and face hundreds of years in jail.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldrım has signaled that Turkey’s state of emergency could be lifted before the country votes in a potential referendum on a new charter, while Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmuş also said the government wanted to see it lifted soon. Yıldırım told daily Hürriyet that his government would not permit any situation in which people could argue that “a referendum took place under a state of emergency,” suggesting that emergency rule, which was imposed after the July 15 coup attempt, would be lifted before a potential vote.