Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was accused of incitement on Monday, after a mob in northern Cyprus ransacked the offices of a newspaper critical of Ankara’s current military offensive in Syria.
A flag-waving crowd attacked the first-floor offices of Afrika newspaper in the Turkish side of Nicosia. Angry protestors also gathered at the state’s parliament building, clambered on to its roof and harangued lawmakers during a swearing-in ceremony.
The newspaper had compared Turkey’s strikes against Kurdish militias in northern Syria to its occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, where Ankara has stationed thousands of troops since 1974.
However, a Turkish presidential source quoted Erdogan as describing Afrika as “a cheap and nasty newspaper” before calling on Turkish Cypriots to “give the necessary response to this”.
Afrika’s editor Sener Levent was quoted by the Associated Press accusing the Turkish president of whipping up opposition against his publication
“Erdogan sent the demonstrators. It was a threat made against us,” Levent was quoted by AP as saying. “We will continue telling the truth and the newspaper will circulate tomorrow.”
Afrika drew the Turkish leader’s ire a month ago when it published a cartoon depicting a Greek statue urinating on Erdogan’s head.
The Turkish president has launched numerous defamation lawsuits against critical cartoonists at home over the years.
Cyprus’ journalists’ union has condemned Monday’s attack.