A now-former TV host for a conservative channel faces criminal charges after he threatened to kill civilians during an off-the-rails rant on his show.
On national Akit TV, Ahmet Keser refuted reports about the Turkish army indiscriminately shelling towns in the Syrian Kurdish area of Afrin, adding if he had to kill civilians, he would start in the 'secular' neighborhoods of Istanbul and then the parliament.
“If we [Turks] were to kill civilians, we would have started in Cihangir, Nisantasiand and Etiler, wouldn’t we?” Keser said, referencing three neighborhoods highly critical of the ruling conservative Islamic Turkish government.
“There are many traitors. There is the Turkish Parliament, too,” he added.
Predictably, Keser had to resign since the bizarre statement, which was also perceived as a mass murder threat, didn't sit well with the public.
Turkish publication Hurriyet reports Keser faces multiple charges, including inciting hatred and animosity in public, provocation and defamation.
Turkey launched a military operation, code-named Olive Branch, against Kurdish fighters in the Afrin District in Syria. The offensive prompted criticism from human rights organizations. In a recent report, Amnesty International cited Kurdish Red Crescent figures, according to which "between 22 January and 21 February 2018, 93 civilians were killed, including 24 children." Nearly 313 other non-combatants were injured, including 51 children.
Akit TV is staunchly pro-government. In fact, the network is notorious for targeting dissidents, according to Al Jazeera. Yet, Keser's rant was so radical that they had to issue a clarification, saying his views “did not represent the channel’s views.”
“Our presenter Ahmet Keser’s words, which crossed the line after he tried to rightfully say that Turkish soldiers were not killing civilians, are not accepted by our channel. Keser has resigned from his post in order to prevent people using his words as an excuse to attack this institution,” Akit TV said in a Feb. 28 statement, according to Hurriyet.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Osman Orsal