It came as a shock for everyone in Turkey as a video was posted on the Internet, revealing a senior journalist slapping away a reporter who was trying to help with a device during a TV interview.
An attempt was reportedly made to conceal the incident from the public by the reporter’s employer Ihlas News Agency (IHA) and the broadcasting news channel Habertürk.
It all took place when Muharrem Sarıkaya, the Ankara representative for the mainstream news channel Habertürk, got irritated for some unknown reason and suddenly slapped a reporter in front of the interviewee, Fatma Şahin, the mayor of Turkey’s south-eastern metropolitan area of Antep.
The video also revealed that as Sarıkaya showed no sign of remorse for what he had just done, there was also not the slightest reaction on the part of Fatma Şahin, who went on speaking as if nothing extraordinary happened.
After the video was posted on social media and drew reactions from shocked viewers, Sarıkaya went on to apologise and then resigned on Monday.
He said on his Twitter account that he had done something that he wasn’t supposed to do, when he lost control upon having some technical difficulties during the live broadcast, adding that he had apologised to the IHA cameraman Ahmet Demir after the interview.
Fatma Şahin also tweeted, saying: “Muharem Sarıkaya’s reaction during Haberturk live broadcast was very wrong as he himself had admitted. We talked about it right afterwards and I told him how I felt.”
While the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) expressed solidarity with Ahmet Demir and announced that they would provide support for legal counselling in case he filed a legal complaint against Sarıkaya, many Twitter users said a mere apology wasn’t enough and that Sarıkaya had to be banned from the profession.
Ahmet Demir spoke to the daily Cumhuriyet after the incident. “It was very difficult not being able to react, and very disturbing to see that the person sitting in front of him did nothing,” he said, and continued: “He tried to apologise. My boss asked me to accept the apology and I agreed out of respect for his age. But later, I contacted my lawyer and decided to start a legal process.”