The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) witnessed tense moments after harsh criticism and questions were directed at the Interior Minister, Süleyman Soylu, during the Plan and Budget Committee meetings on 18 November. Refraining from responding to the criticisms and questions, Soylu instead insulted the MPs from the opposition parties.
As Soylu addressed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Rıdvan Turan as a “terrorist clown”, MPs from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) menacingly approached Turan as tempers flared.
After another HDP MP Sait Dede mentioned Habip Eksik, a Kurdish lawmaker who suffered a double leg fracture after an attack by Turkish police with targeted blows on 9 October, Soylu said that Dede was slandering the police, adding: “You broke his foot”.
There is clear footage of the moment when Eksik’s foot was broken by the police. After the incident, during a speech to security officers, Soylu praised individuals who beat officials from the HDP, saying “Congratulations to them, they’ve done well.”
Socialist Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Ahmet Şık argued that Soylu and the AKP accuse anyone who is not one of them, of terrorism, and said to Soylu: “We know the legal consequences of your crimes. Surely the day of reckoning will come.”
While Soylu replied to Şık by calling him “a man for sale”, AKP MPs also approached Şık menacingly.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Ali Mahir Başarır, who criticised Soylu’s statements after the bomb attack in Istanbul, and CHP Deputy Chairman, Engin Özkoç, who had asked questions about the drugs seized on the way to Turkey from Colombia, were among those exposed to insults by the Interior Minister.
In response, Soylu called Başarır “a bandit” and said: “The one who launders dirty money is dishonest, the one who deals with drugs is dishonest, and [CHP leader] Kılıçdaroğlu who does not prove [the allegations] is dishonest; it’s that simple.”
Opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu blamed Interior Minister Soylu for the rising use of methamphetamine in Turkey. Kılıçdaroğlu claimed on 31 October that the money from the drug trade had been used to finance Turkey’s current account deficit.
Soylu has also been criticised in the Turkish political scene for his contradictory statements, especially after the recent bomb attack which killed six and injured dozens in Istanbul on 13 November.