An unwise Twitter comment by Ankara’s mayor has resulted in a social media backlash, including an Instagram picture of the US Ambassador with digitally-altered blonde hair.
Mayor Melih Gokcek called Marie Harf, the acting spokeswoman for the US State department, a “stupid blonde” after a Turkish newspaper slammed her silence on the recent unrest in Baltimore.
Gokcek was incensed because while the US government criticism of the 2013 Gezi Park protest crackdowns was vociferous, it’s kept schtum over the recent unrest in Baltimore.
Gokcek took to Twitter to voice his criticism, tweeting a picture of Baltimore police clashing with protestors and a picture of Harf, with the words: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?” Above the image he wrote: “Come on blonde, answer now!”
Another tweet read: “According to the blonde girl, the government’s reaction during the Gezi Park protests were worrisome, but when it comes to your country, is it normal to declare a curfew.”
If Gokcek was unaware of the impact of voicing strong opinions on Twitter, he is now. The mayor has been accused of hypocrisy after his string of sexist and anti-American comments - the cantankerous leader is famous for launching lawsuits against people who dare to criticise him on Twitter.
The US ambassador to Turkey posted a picture on his Instagram account, depicting himself with his dark hair digitally altered to blonde. The caption reads: “American diplomats, we’re all blonde.”
Harf is on record saying that she doesn’t want to dignify the tweets with a response, but has challenged Gokcek’s assertion that the US government has been silent on the Baltimore protests, pointing out that President Obama had commented on the clashes, which broke out after Freddie Gray died during an arrest by Baltimore Police.
Gokcek is known for hitting out at opponents who criticism him on Twitter, especially journalists. In March he filed a criminal complaint for declaration against a Turkish journalist who joked that Gokcek was Armenian. Gokcek’s lawyers responded aggressively, stating that the mayor was “a citizen of the Turkish republic who loves his country and his nation”, which made the journalist’s comments “false” and an “insult and libel”. Gokcek demanded compensation for “psychological damage” to the tune of £2445.
Gokcek’s been Ankara’s mayor since 1994 and is a member of the Erdogan-led AKP party. He’s a controversial figure in Turkish politics and the “stupid blonde” comment is the latest in a line of aggressive tweets.
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