As thousands flooded the streets of Turkey on Wednesday to mourn teenager Berkin Elvan, who died Tuesday from injuries suffered during clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators last summer, a controversial Turkish politician posted a tweet that some interpreted as being critical of the mourners.
Parliament member Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s former chief negotiator and minister for European Union affairs, caused an uproar online Wednesday when he posted the following tweet: “Those necrophiliacs who are uncomfortable with the end of terrorism, our brotherhood [with Kurds] and who are targeting the peace process will get their response from voters on March 30 [the day of local elections]," Bagis wrote, according to a translation by The Huffington Post.
His tweet (pictured below) has since been deleted.
former EU minister egemen bagis refers to protestors as "necrophiliacs" as hundreds of thousands gather for a funeral pic.twitter.com/1wHX7LA5CP
— Harun Tekin (@harun_tekin) March 12, 2014
Many tweeters in turn had some harsh words for Bagis:
@EgemenBagis These are the most disgusting, most disrespectful words I've ever heard from a Turkish politician
— Daniel Steinvorth (@dsteinvorth) March 12, 2014
Disgusted at your comment, I pray that the turkish ppl teach u a lesson when they get their chance at elections @EgemenBagis
— Kevin Kenan (@kevinkenan_uk) March 12, 2014
While on his way to buy bread Elvan, 14 at the time, got caught up in the midst of Istanbul's street protests and was hit in the head by a teargas canister. The injuries sustained from his head wound put him in a coma for nine months, up until his death on Tuesday, The Guardian reports.
President President Abdullah Gul addressed Elvan's death, offering the following statement, per CNN: "I extend my condolences to his family. I share their pain."
Demonstrators’ clashes with police Wednesday were the worst the nation has seen since the anti-government demonstrations last summer at Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park. After nightfall, protestors continued to rally in central Istanbul, urging Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to step down. These latest protests signify yet another pre-election setback for Erdogan, who faces mounting pressure over his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal, ahead of local elections on March 30 and upcoming presidential elections later this year.
UPDATE: March 16 -- In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post, Bagis commented on the deleted tweet.
"Although I understand that the timing [of the tweet] was very unfortunate, it was by no means ill-intentioned regarding the sad funeral which happened to be taking place in Istanbul on that day," he wrote, in part.
"The intended recipients of the twitter message were those who were critical of the cease-fire in Southeast Turkey and the peace established during the 'Resolution' process putting an end to terrorism and the bloodshed for the past eighteen months all throughout Turkey," added Bagis.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Bagis' tweet had called mourners "necrophiliacs," though it was unclear to whom he was referring.