Legal proceedings have been initiated against a self-declared Hizbullahist who made a death threat against opposition deputies during a street interview in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Batman on Wednesday, announced a lawyer for the opposition bloc’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
The targeting of opposition MPs, in the interview aired on YouTube, made the national agenda as debate continues over links between the Kurdish Hizbullah and the Islamist Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par), an electoral ally of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In the video the man says, “We are ready for jihad, we will cut off their heads.”
When passers-by were asked for their opinions on the 14 May general elections, the man said, “I don’t vote for these dogs, atheists, heretics, heathens. … If they touch [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, we will cut off their heads,” and went on to state his association with the extremist group Hizbullah.
While the incident caused outrage on social media, Kılıçdaroğlu’s lawyer, Celal Çelik, responded with a statement on twitter.
“We are taking the necessary action against this insolent person. We will ensure that he receives the heaviest punishment! We will not let go of such immoral people,” Çelik tweeted.
It was later revealed that the man in the controversial video, İsmail Cevher Kasımoğlu, was a prime candidate in Batman’s 2019 local elections but had lost to the city’s first female neighbourhood representative, Fatma Türkan.
The Sunni Hizbullah (separate to the Lebanese Hezbollah) emerged in southeast Turkey in 1985, just one year after the start of an insurgence led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Hizbullah is known to many in Turkey for the bloodshed and horror it caused in the country’s Kurdish-majority region during the 1990s.