Erdogan Heckles Critic, Storms Out Of Ceremony
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[May 10, 2014]
By Ayla Jean Yackley
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - An angry Turkish
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan heckled the head of the country's bar
association on Saturday, accusing him of rudeness for speaking too long
and critically at a judicial ceremony, then stormed out of the hall.
The dramatic scene underscored how tensions remain high after
bitterly contested March local polls and amid expectations Erdogan
will seek the presidency in another election in August.
Erdogan interrupted a speech in Ankara by Metin Feyzioglu, chairman
of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, saying his speech was
political and was full of untruths after Feyzioglu questioned the
government's handling of the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake in the
southeastern province of Van.
"You are speaking falsehoods ... How could there be such rudeness?"
Erdogan shouted and stood up to gesticulate in anger at Feyzioglu,
who was onstage at a podium and refused to stop speaking. The scene
was broadcast by CNN Turk television.
Erdogan also expressed frustration that Feyzioglu, who in the past
criticized the criminal prosecution of Erdogan's political
opponents, had broken protocol by speaking for an hour while he
himself had only taken 25 minutes to address the crowd before
leaving the ceremony in Ankara.
It was an unusual outburst even for Erdogan, Turkey's most popular
leader in a half-century, whose street-tough origins and hard talk
are part of his appeal for many Turks.
Last month, the head of the Constitutional Court denounced
"excessive" political criticism of his tribunal in a speech attended
by Erdogan, who remained stonily silent during the ceremony. Only
later did he say he was "saddened" by Chief Justice Hasim Kilic's
At the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Erdogan left
the stage after clashing with Israeli President Shimon Peres in what
would augur a split between the two allied nations that persists
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The three-time premier has yet to announce a run for the presidency,
but his interest in the top job is widely accepted.
Though largely ceremonial, the presidency is still the nation's most
prestigious post and was held by modern Turkey's founder Mustafa
A presidential bid would follow a difficult year for Erdogan that
included the biggest anti-government protests in decades over his
perceived authoritarianism and a corruption scandal that implicated
family members and cabinet ministers.
Erdogan responded with a sweeping shakeup of the police and
judiciary he has accused of political interference.
(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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