The US ambassador to Turkey has fought back with humour after Ankara’s mayor called a US State Department spokeswoman a “stupid blonde,” reports.
John Bass posted a picture on his Instagram account with his normally dark hair digitally altered to a reddish blond. The caption said: “American diplomats: we’re all blonde.”
The mayor of Turkey’s capital city, Melih Gökçek, was accused of hypocrisy on Thursday after tweeting a string of sexist and anti-American comments against Marie Harf, the acting spokeswoman for the US State Department – but launching hundreds of lawsuits against people who use Twitter to criticise him.
A Turkish pro-government newspaper had criticised her for being “silent” on unrest in Baltimore despite repeated US government criticism of Turkey during the violent crackdown on Gezi Park protesters in the summer of 2013.
And then Gokcek posted a tweet with an image of police in Baltimore forcibly subduing someone during the recent unrest with a caption that said: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?”
The tweet included a picture of Harf and said: “Come on blonde, answer now.”
In another tweet, the notoriously cantankerous Ankara mayor wrote: “According to the blonde girl, the government’s reaction during the Gezi Park protests were worrisome, but when it comes to your country, is it normal to declare a curfew.”
Harf said she did not want to “dignify [the tweets] with a response”, but challenged Gökçek’s claim that the US government had been silent on the unrest in Baltimore, saying that President Barack Obama had commented on the unrest, which erupted on the death of Freddie Gray, after his arrest by police.
But activists in Turkey pointed out that while Gökçek regularly lashes out at his opponents on Twitter, he is less happy to be the subject of online criticism.
In March this year Gökçek has filed a criminal complaint for defamation against Hayko Bagdat, a Turkish journalist of Armenian descent, after he jokingly called the Ankara mayor “Armenian” in tweets posted after the local elections. One of Bagdat’s messages read: “It is official – they gave the capital city to an Armenian. What a shame!”
The petition handed in by Gökçek’s lawyers stated that the mayor was “a citizen of the Turkish republic who loves his country and his nation”, and Bagdat’s comments therefore “false” and an “insult and libel”. Gökçek demanded 10,000 Turkish lira (£2,445) for “psychological damage”.