CHP refers Bolu Mayor Özcan to disciplinary committee over sexism


The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has referred Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan to the disciplinary committee over sexist remarks, the party’s deputy chair responsible for local administrations said Tuesday.

In a written statement, Seyit Torun said that Özcan’s stance and actions have been “sensitively” followed by the CHP, and he has received several verbal warnings.

I have noted that the party evaluated the mayor’s sexist dialogue with a woman, which took place on May 16, in its latest meeting on Monday and has decided to refer him to the disciplinary committee for expulsion.

The party’s High Disciplinary Committee is expected to agree to discuss Özcan’s case and will give him a chance to defend himself.

The mayor currently cannot carry out work on behalf of the party due to the ongoing case.

Meanwhile, Bilecik Mayor Semih Şahin, who was suspended by the Interior Ministry over bribing allegations, has been expelled from the CHP on Tuesday.

In January, the party issued a disciplinary warning to Özcan for offensive remarks against a woman wearing a headscarf.

Özcan had previously said in an interview that a woman wearing a headscarf had sought help from him.

“She told me that she could not conceive and asked for help. In response, I asked her, ‘ma’am, how can I help you?'” Özcan had said in the interview. People on social media quickly condemned the mayor for exploiting the woman’s cries for help and twisting them in a denigrating manner.

The mayor has been under fire over his xenophobic remarks since becoming mayor in 2019, including from members of his party.

A court in the northwestern Turkish city of Bolu recently overturned a controversial city council vote that aimed to charge a tenfold fee to the water bills of “foreigners” – in reference to refugees from neighboring Syria – and fees for performing marriage ceremonies.

The mayor said he was doing this so that “foreigners” would leave. “They overstayed their welcome. If I had the authority, I would deploy municipality officials to throw them out by force,” he said, recalling that he had allocated free buses for refugees when Turkey briefly opened its borders to Europe for them.

Özcan was also heavily criticized on social media for being “populist” and “fascist,” with some even calling for a racial discrimination complaint to be filed against him.

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