“Government, resign! chanted thousands of supporters of Istanbul’s Besiktas team in the Inonu stadium on Sunday evening during the league game against Antalyaspor, nearly three weeks after the devastating earthquake in southeastern Turkey.
These Besiktas supporters also threw soft toys on the lawn in tribute to the child victims of the February 6 earthquake which killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and also affected neighboring Syria.
The government targeted for its lack of reaction
The day before, Fenerbahçe supporters had already chanted “Lies, cheating, it’s been 20 years, resign!” during a match against Konyaspor.
Since the earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8, the Turkish government has been strongly criticized by the opposition and independent media for its lack of reaction during the first days in devastated areas.
With the approach of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for May 14, the popularity of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, already damaged by the economic crisis, is suffering a little more.
Attempting to silence critics, Ankara temporarily blocked access to Twitter on February 8. The Turkish Broadcasting High Council (RTUK) also sanctioned three TV channels for criticizing the government.
“Voices find a fault and rise”
“The earthquake not only destroys the houses, but also the empire of fear. Even if we ban Twitter or TV channels (…), voices find a loophole and rise. As was the case in the stands of Fenerbahçe, “said a Turkish journalist, Mustafa Hos, on Twitter on Saturday.
Fans of Besiktas, one of the Istanbul clubs, are known to be quite close to the opposition. Open calls for the resignation of authorities have been rare in Turkey since President Erdogan’s hardening of power after the attempted coup against him in 2016.
“While our country is fighting against the biggest disaster of the century, shouting resignation slogans during the Fenerbahçe-Konyaspor match is irresponsible and senseless”, reacted on Twitter Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Action party, partner of coalition of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party.
Devlet Bahceli even called on clubs to take “urgent and necessary measures” to ensure that matches are played without fans.