The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has associated calls from the fans of two major football clubs for the government to resign in the wake of devastating earthquakes in the country to an “internal and external conspiracy,” Turkish media reported.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was outraged by the calls from Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş fans over the weekend that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) resign due to its failure to adequately prepare the country for earthquakes.
Two powerful earthquakes in the country’s south on Feb. 6 have so far claimed the lives of more than 45,000 people across 11 provinces while destroying thousands of buildings, causing massive devastation.
“Inviting the government to resign is an internal and external conspiracy designed to make Turkey look weak,” Bahçeli told a party meeting on Tuesday, also calling the slogans disrespectful to the earthquake victims.
He said the police should identify the people who provoked the crowds to challenge the government.
Erdoğan and his AKP government have come under fire following the twin earthquakes due to what many said was poor handling of the disaster, belated search and rescue efforts and failure to provide basic necessities to the survivors in addition to their failure to prepare the country for quakes since it sits on major fault lines and is frequently struck by deadly earthquakes.
Bahçeli also said he had cut his ties to Beşiktaş.
The MHP leader and some other MHP executives earlier announced that they had canceled their Beşiktaş membership in the wake of the anti-government slogans in the team’s stadium.
Bahçeli also called on club management to prevent such displays or to play matches in empty stadiums, which attracted widespread criticism.
Meanwhile, Beşiktaş’s Disciplinary Board Chairman Ahmet Akpınar tweeted on Monday that Bahçeli’s membership in Beşiktaş had already been dropped because he failed to pay the yearly membership fee, so it was impossible for him to resign.