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Islamist party leader slams AKP bill involving potential euthanasia of stray animals

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Fatih Erbakan, leader of the Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP), has criticized a draft law involving the capture and possible euthanasia of stray animals in Turkey that is planned to be submitted to parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the coming weeks.

In recent years the topic of rounding up stray animals, mainly dogs, has become increasingly prominent in Turkey. The issue resurfaced earlier this week, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan convening his ministers and urging action. In addition to capturing stray animals, the suggestion to euthanize unadopted ones was also discussed at the meeting for the draft law, according to a report by the Gazete Duvar news website on Wednesday.

Whenever this issue of stray animals arises, animal lovers and animal protection associations emphasize that effective spaying and neutering and rehabilitation are the key solutions.

Erbakan also commented on the AKP’s draft law during a press statement in Konya, where he visited his party’s municipalities, saying that the YRP is “absolutely against” putting stray animals down.

“Only God Almighty can take a life that God Almighty has given. … This behavior [of euthanizing stray animals] is not in accordance with our faith. It is also not humane,” the YRP leader said.

He added that municipalities run by his party have started working on a project that aims to remove stray dogs from the streets and house them in modern, well-equipped centers where they will be cared for under the supervision of veterinarians and skilled staff.

According to Erbakan, these centers will be accessible to the public through 24-hour live streaming and in-person visits, ensuring transparency and the best living conditions for the animals.

The killing of stray animals is commonplace in Turkey, with dogs being particular targets. In most cases, perpetrators are people disturbed by their barking or attacks on their livestock or other animals.

Stray dogs have been targeted even more frequently since a fourth-grader, Tunahan Yılmaz (10), in Ankara was attacked by a pack of dogs and sustained serious injuries in December.

In addition to its poor record on human rights, the country also has a poor record on the protection of animal rights. There are frequent reports about the mass killing of stray dogs by municipalities, while animal cruelty is not punished by law.

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