Turks donned shorts and gathered in central Istanbul on Sunday to condemn the assault of a young nurse who was attacked on a bus for wearing shorts. With chants of Don’t interfere with my shorts!” the protest aimed to show solidarity with Aysegul Terzi, who was kicked in the face by a man, Abdullah Cakiroglu, on September 12.
Cakiroglu confessed to attacking Terzi for what he called her “inappropriate” clothing, yet was released from custody despite expressing no remorse, according to Turkish news reports. Following a public uproar over the attack, he was then re-arrested on charges of inciting hatred and interfering with the right to freedom.
On social media, critics accused the Turkish authorities of expressing tacit approval of Cakiroglu’s actions. Accountant Saadet Yesil, 44, told The Associated Press at Sunday’s protest that everyone had a right to dress as they saw fit. “Just as we don’t interfere with those in headscarves or gentlemen in turbans, we expect they extend us the same courtesy,” she said.
She also accused Turkey’s prime minister of attempting to downplay the attack. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke of the assault with the Turkish daily Hurriyet last week, saying, “I don’t think he is a normal man because what he did isn’t something a normal person would do. You might not like (someone’s dress but) you just grumble about it.”
Akin Ozcan Aksoy, a 21-year-old student at Sunday’s protest, told the AP he hoped such attacks would not take place “but the direction our country is headed makes me think we will encounter more of these stories.” Another shorts protest was scheduled to take place in Ankara, the capital.