Recent remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claiming that Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen or his followers are shooting a movie about Erdoğan and his family have been denied by Gülen’s lawyers, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has accused Erdoğan of shooting a movie himself to cover up corruption allegations facing his government.
“Pennsylvania is shooting a movie about my family,” Erdoğan said before a crowd of his supporters in the eastern province of Ağrı on Wednesday. Pennsylvania is the US state where Gülen resides. “I have just found out that Pennsylvania is preparing a nice movie about me. They are preparing a nice movie about me and my family,” Erdoğan said in the rally, ahead of a re-run of a municipal election in Ağrı on Sunday.
“Those who inform the prime minister are either making a joke or the prime minister is being misled,” Nurullah Albayrak, Gülen’s lawyer, said in a statement on Wednesday. The lawyer added that it is inappropriate to trade in such false information for political ends.
Erdoğan is widely expected to run in Turkey’s first direct presidential election in August and he suggested the release of such a video was designed to embarrass him ahead of the vote. “These plots have always failed, and they will fail. Now they are counting on getting the movie ready before the presidential elections,” he said.
Erdoğan has been battling a corruption scandal that emerged in December. Police raids targeted businessmen close to him and the sons of ministers, but it appears to have run out of steam, with one graft court case dismissed at the start of May.
The prime minister has removed thousands of police and judiciary officials from their posts in what he characterizes as a campaign to root out a subversive “parallel state.”
The power struggle has been one of the biggest challenges of Erdoğan’s 11-year rule, but in his light-hearted comments about the possible video on Wednesday, he showed no sign of worry. “They haven’t yet been able to find an appropriate actor to play me. They couldn’t find an actor to play my son, either,” he said. “But they don’t need to go to Hollywood to find actors; they have plenty of artists among themselves.”
Speaking at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday, CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Akif Hamzaçebi talked about Erdoğan’s allegations about a movie being shot about himself and his family. He said while Erdoğan has accused people abroad of shooting a movie about him, he is the one actually shooting a movie in Turkey. “[He is shooting a movie] by reassigning police chiefs and by making the hindering of a [graft] probe no longer a crime,” Hamzaçebi said.
He said two police chiefs who took part in the graft probe have been barred from their profession, which he described as an “unacceptable action.” The CHP deputy group chairman also said no matter what action the government takes, it will not be able to cover up the graft claims.