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Turkey’s far-right leader says attempts to link his party to attacks a ‘conspiracy’

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The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has slammed efforts to hold his party responsible for attacks on a politician and a journalist last week, saying that accusations against the MHP are a “conspiracy.”

Last Friday Selçuk Özdağ, a politician from Turkey’s opposition Gelecek (Future) Party, was hospitalized after he was attacked by five unknown assailants in front of his house in Ankara. On the same day, the nationalist Yeniçağ daily’s Ankara representative Orhan Uğurluoğlu was also injured while leaving his home in the capital city in an attack by three unknown assailants.

Following the attacks, fingers were pointed at the MHP and Turkey’s ultranationalists, known as ülkücüler, as the potential masterminds of the attacks on Özdağ and Uğurluoğlu, who have recently been critical of MHP policies.

In his first remarks about Friday’s attack, MHP Chair Devlet Bahçeli said in a statement on Monday that “daring to associate the nationalist-ülkücü movement with the attacks, which it had nothing to do with, and judge it are the efforts of those feeding off terrorism. It is slander and a conspiracy.”

Özdağ and Gelecek Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu called on Bahçeli to make a statement regarding the attack on Özdağ, hinting that the attack was the result of Özdağ’s criticism of Bahçeli.

In his statement Bahçeli fell short of condemning the attacks on the politician and the journalist.

Davutoğlu, a former heavyweight in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), parted ways with the AKP and established the rival Gelecek Party in December 2019. Özdağ was also a former AKP deputy.

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