Turkey arrests union head for calling bread-eating societies "stupid"

Turkey arrests union head for calling bread-eating societies "stupid"

Turkish police detained a union leader after he said only a "stupid" society would consume bread as its staple food.

The arrest took place after the man said society's fondness for bread explained why it had elected President Tayyip Erdogan's governments for two decades.

Cihan Kolivar, chairman for the Union for Bread Producers in Turkey, had been speaking to the Haberturk news channel about the rising price of bread in the country.

“Bread is the staple food for the stupid societies," he said.

“I speak scientifically, I am not making it up - per capita consumption is 210 kilos in Turkey; and 45-50 kilos in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Japan. (...) Since our society eats their fill with bread, such rulers have been ruling it for 20 years."

An Istanbul court remanded him in custody pending trial, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

AA
Cihan Kolivar, chairman for the Union for Bread Producers in Turkey, who was arrested for his comments - AA

Turkey is widely criticised by rights groups and Western allies for limiting freedom of speech.

Critics blame Turkey's economic ills on Erdogan's unorthodox monetary policies, which he says are aimed at boosting exports, investment and jobs. Inflation in October climbed to a 24-year high of 85.5 per cent, having started to surge last year as the lira slumped after the central bank began cutting rates as sought by Erdogan.

Erdogan's ruling AK Party spokesperson Omer Celik said Kolivar's remarks constituted hate speech.

"In addition to insulting our nation and bread, this person's statements show that he is an element of the politics of hostility, the politics of hatred," Celik said.