In an awkward moment during a public ceremony on Tuesday, a newly-elected Kurdish mayor did not receive a handshake from a Turkish brigadier general.
The moment when Brig. Gen. Özgür Nuhut refused to shake hands with Ayhan Bilgen, who was elected as the mayor of Kars province in the March 31 local elections, was captured by the cameras of a local TV station when officials from Kars convened in front of the Kars Governor’s Office to mark April 23, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
In the video footage Nuhut is seen shaking hands with other city officials while taking his hand back when Bilgen extends his.
The general’s move attracted harsh criticism from the HDP, which described it as an act of disrespect of the nation’s will.
“This situation is the result of a military tutelage created by the ruling party,” the HDP said in a statement, accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of fomenting hatred of the HDP.
Bilgen also reacted to the general’s refusal to shake hands, tweeting: “If this attitude is not against me personally but against the will of the people of Kars, then they will give the necessary answer. If the lack of tolerance is for democracy, then the ruling party should explain it.”