Turkish president condemns attack on drinking rock fans

AFP , Monday 20 Jun 2016

File photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday condemned Islamists who attacked rock fans at a music store in Istanbul, but also said it was "wrong" for fans to have consumed alcohol in public during Ramadan.

"Both sides are at fault in this," he told the Dogan press agency.

"It is wrong to be involved in an activity which spills out into the street during Ramadan just as it is wrong to use brute force."

A group of about 20 men beat up customers and employees at the music store who were listening to the new album by the British rock group Radiohead on Friday night, angry that they were drinking alcohol during the Muslim holy month. At least one person was injured.

The next day, hundreds of people gathered in the city to protest the attack, shouting "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!" and denouncing Erdogan as a "thief" and a "killer".

Police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Erdogan criticised those who he said have "exploited this regrettable incident" in order to condemn his government.

The Turkish opposition media viewed the attack at the music store as a reflection of the growing intolerance among religious conservatives to different lifestyles in Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim but officially secular.

On Sunday, Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a rally by the LGBT community in Istanbul.

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