Angered by their continued independence and support for democracy and secularism, the Turkish strongman is demanding changes to the way professional organisations like bar associations elect their leaders.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on his critics has accelerated during the COVID-19 outbreak. Like many other autocrats in the world, he is using the opportunity of the health crisis to maximise power and undermine opponents, passing new laws during the pandemic.
The Turkish strongman’s latest target is professional organisations within public institution status, such as bar associations, unions and chambers, as these are some of the few institutions that he has not seized control of already, experts say.
“We have witnessed various attacks by the Ankara Bar Association and similar institutions, which have the same mind-set against the head of our religious authority and Islam,” Erdogan said on May 5. “This example alone has showed the importance and the urgency of changing these institutions’ election methods,” he added.
Erdogan was referring to the Ankara Bar Association’s criticism of homophobic statements made by chief cleric Ali Erbas, which Erdogan supported. A legal investigation has since started against the bar for allegedly insulting Islam and people’s beliefs.