Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag criticized Gezi Park protesters Dec. 12 for allegedly kissing when they took refuge at a mosque during a police crackdown on demonstrators in Istanbul's Besiktas neighborhood between May 31 and June 3 Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Speaking during a debate at the General Assembly on matters relating to the Directorate General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Bozdag has maintained once again that protesters consumed alcohol inside the Dolmabahçe Mosque, as previously asserted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, further claiming that protesters had kissed.
"[On the subject of] groups littered [the grounds of the Dolmabahçe mosque] with their cigarette ash, left beer cans, got drunk and kissed... I would have expected a sentence that said 'this is shameless, this is disrespectful of this mosque, this temple, the values of this nation'," Bozdag said, addressing opposition deputies.
"Mosques in this country have never been exposed to such vulgarity and disrespect. Our religious values had never been trampled in this way before," Bozdag said.
The Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Chair, Muharrem İnce, strongly reacted to Bozdag's words: "While you criticize what young people in this country do in desperation, you can't criticize American soldiers at İncirlik [airbase] or Iraq [who enter mosques] with their boots on," İnce said.
Doctors offered an immediate medical response to Gezi protesters at the Mosque during a fierce police crackdown. An investigation was launched into the issue after Erdogan, at rallies in Ankara and Istanbul, openly accused the protesters of drinking alcoholic beverages and entering the mosque with their shoes.
Muezzin Fuat Yildirim has confirmed that first aid had been administered to injured protesters between May 31 and June 3, but has repeated that he did not see alcoholic beverages being consumed in the mosque, in contrast to Erdogan's accusations.