Turkish authorities reportedly arrested yet another man for attacking a statue of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Istanbul on Friday.
“Police on Aug. 11 detained a man who dismantled the bust of Atatürk at a schoolyard in the Umraniye district of Istanbul,” reports Hurriyet Daily News, noting that the incident in Turkey occurred at around 2:15 a.m. local time.
Citing the Istanbul security general directorate, the news outlet identifies the vandal as Mehmet Y., adding that he “was detained in relation to the incident and proceedings are ongoing at the district police station,” without elaborating further.
The incident marks at least the second time in a few weeks a man is arrested in Turkey for attacking an Atatürk sculpture.
While wearing traditional Islamic clothes and a turban, authorities in the southeastern Turkish city of Siverek arrested Mehmet Malbora after he struck an Atatürk statue with a sickle on July 30, revealed Hurriyet in a different article.
Malbora is reportedly facing up to five years in jail for “damaging a sculpture that represents Atatürk.”
As he attacked the sculpture, he reportedly shouted, “There is no idol worshipping in Islam!”
Turkey is a Muslim-majority nation, but the country’s government prosecutes those who make public statements interpreted to insult Atatürk.
Nevertheless, many secularists have expressed concerns that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration has given Islam undue influence in the public sphere.
“Recent changes in public education, for example, will force children to engage more Quranic studies, study more Islamic writers and scientists, and expose them less to Western scientific ideas like the theory of evolution,” reported Breitbart News. “The new curriculum will also minimize references to Atatürk. Erdogan has also begun the construction of an ‘international Islamic university’ in Istanbul the Turkish government hopes will become an Islamic authority on par with Egypt’s al-Azhar University.”
Turkey’s Christian minority has also been persecuted under Erdogan’s watch.
Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the Kurd-aligned HDP Party of Turkey, has even accused Erdogan of engaging in efforts to create an Islamic “caliphate” in Turkey. Demirtas is currently serving time in prison for alleged ties to Kurdish separatist groups, which he denies.
Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Atatürk founded the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
“His rule over the nation was characterized by his enthusiastic embrace of secularism, removing Islam from the political sphere of life and constructing a legal framework independent of sharia law,” noted Breitbart News.