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Turkey: Gunman Shoots Up Tea House After Being Charged ‘Double’ ($0.65)

An enraged customer at a Turkish tea house returned with a gun and fired repeatedly, injuring a septuagenarian man, after being expelled for protesting that his cup of tea cost $0.65, or twice the amount he expected to pay.

Authorities have not yet arrested the man, as he fled the scene after his armed assault.

The incident occurred in Kocaeli province near Istanbul, following an incident in which the gunman’s friends helped escort him out of the tea house for arguing that he was being charged “double” for his cup of tea. Witnesses say he fired at least four times indiscriminately into the tea house from his car and drove away too quickly for police to respond. Hurriyet identifies the victim as 73-year-old Celal Şar, a patron of the tea house who has been hospitalized after a bullet hit his ear.

The shooting is notable as yet another indication that Turkey’s crime rate developing into a major challenge for the government, even when not overtly tied to the activities of the Islamic State (ISIS), which has used Turkey for years as a transit point from which jihadists may enter Syria. In another tea house-related incident, authorities eventually shut down a tea house named “Islam” after years of investigation uncovered an Islamic State recruiting operation actively using Islam as a headquarters. Among those radicalized at Islam Tea House were Seyh Abdurrahman Alagoz and his brother, Yunus Emre Alagoz. Seyh committed a suicide bombing against a Kurdish group in Suruç this summer, while Yunus was responsible for the Ankara suicide bombing, the deadliest terror attack in post-Ottoman Turkish history.

A 2014 study found that crime in Turkey had increased 400 percent between 1984 and 2004, particularly violent and drug-related crime. Domestic violence has also become a significant problem in Turkey, with an even greater rate of growth. In 2014, Al Monitor reported a 1400 percent increase in the number of murdered women in Turkey, most killed by husbands or jilted ex-boyfriends.

 

Today’s Zaman, a newspaper that has been notably critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past, has accused the AKP for having a direct role in the rise in Istanbul’s crime rate. Widespread criminal activity in the city, it argues, is  “an outcome of the breakdown of state authority after thousands of police officers were transferred, suspended or imprisoned by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government ever since two graft investigations became public in December 2013, security experts say.”

Though Erdogan has denied it, the AKP is an Islamist party whose politicians have pushed for Islamic teachings in schools and against secularization. It has become popular among many Muslim Turks in the nation largely because of its embrace of free market ideals. The AKP’s party platform “recognizes that the State should remain, in principle outside all types of economic activities,” and has legislated in concert with this belief.

Many of its followers are nonetheless overtly Islamist, however, and have gathered to commit violent crimes against AKP critics in the media. An angry mob shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked the headquarters of the newspaper Hurriyet twice last year; the AKP government launched a probe into Hurriyet following the attacks. At least one AKP legislator participated in the mob. Hurriyet journalist Ahmet Hakan was also beaten on his way home from work by two men identified as official AKP members.

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