Ercan Kizilates, pictured in police custody in Turkey, played the provocation card after he allegedly assaulted a young woman on a minibus in Istanbul.
Kizilates, according to news channel BirGün, claims that he was “turned on” by the sight of Melisa Saglam in shorts, and warned her about wearing “revealing” clothing during Ramadan.
He said in a statement:
I warned the woman in shorts because it caught my attention that her clothes were too revealing and her crotch was visible; and, I was fasting [for Ramadan]. I said to her: ‘My friend, there is something called manners and morals. Getting on a public transportation like this is not proper.’
So, in response to this, the woman told me ‘not to look, then’… I told her that sometimes people cannot control their desires and told her that her way of dressing turned me on. She huffed … and began to talk to someone on her phone about me saying ‘Some man on the bus is giving me stupid advice on religion and so on’.
I heard this and I got angry; and, I told her to stop talking about me to the other person … and, I just pushed her face with the back of my hand slowly before getting out of the car …
He added that Saglam then got up and “attacked and cursed” him.
At that time, I thought the woman was an athlete because she attacked me with a great move and courage … The woman punched me on my left shoulder. Her punch was not very strong.
I pushed the woman just so I could prevent her from harming me. If the camera recordings are examined, it will be seen that I did not attack or batter the woman. Then, I got out of the vehicle just to not get into an argument with her. I have a complaint about her!
However, the video shows him slapping Saglam. He then batters her as she tries to defend herself.
Video footage released by BirGün sparked public outrage, and the chief prosecutor ordered his arrest. It’s been reported that the suspect has been in detention since yesterday (Wednesday), but according to information received from the police department, the warrant of arrest against him is not over the attack on Saglam but over a tax debt.
Newsweek yesterday reported that Kizilates had been detained immediately after the incident, which took place on June 14, but he was released after he explained that he had been provoked. A warrant for his arrest was then issued after Turkish women’s activists reacted angrily to the attack.
The Turkish arm of women’s rights activist group FEMEN tweeted:
Yet another woman was attacked in Turkey for wearing short shorts!!!
The release of the attacker is a threat to all women. We will wear whatever we want outside. We will not give up our freedoms.
It also shared footage of the video and retweeted dozens of supportive messages from Turkish women who used a hashtag of Saglam’s name.
The organisation said that men in Turkey have murdered 173 women between January and May this year. The number was 328 for the whole of 2016. Rights groups have alleged that the Turkish government’s increasing Islamisation of the secular country is eroding women’s rights.
Saglam says she wants justice – and for life to return to normal again after the assault.
Speaking to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, she said:
My only wish from the justice system is that an appropriate, dissuasive punishment is given to the assailant. I do not want him to walk around freely because I cannot anymore. Since being assaulted I have been unable to go anywhere without my mother. I cannot even get on public transportation.
In this report Saglam claimed that the driver of the minibus watched the attack take place and did nothing, and that another man even told her to “stop crying”.
Saglam asked the driver :
Didn’t you feel sorry at all?’
I don’t have to protect you.
In a separate incident reported this week by BirGün, two teenage boys were verbally abused in Istanbul by “men in robes” for eating ice cream during Ramadan.
The boys were told:
This is a Muslim country … one cannot act like this while everyone is fasting.