For a second time in the past month, Turkish parliament members went at each other – physically – during a contentious session, leaving one lawmaker with a broken nose who required hospitalization and another with a broken finger.
The latest brawl involving dozens of members of parliament (MPs) during which insults deteriorated into punches took place during a debate that spanned from Friday into Saturday focused on a controversial bill granting the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater control over the judiciary.
A Reuters correspondent described the scene: “Dozens of MPs broke into fights during the tense 20-hour debate and insults flew across party lines. When an opposition deputy called Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a dictator, deputies from the leader’s party shouted back ‘are you drunk?’”
The law would grant the Justice Ministry greater control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, raising objection from critics who have said the new law would blur the separation of powers in Turkey.
The New York Times reported from Istanbul, “The raucous scene, as well as the fisticuffs that broke out during a previous debate on the bill, was emblematic of the messy turn Turkish politics has taken recently, as a corruption investigation targeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle has thrust the government into crisis.”
An earlier brawl broke out in the parliament last month while debating the same issue. That fight had political opponents throwing punches, water bottles, notebooks and even an iPad at each other.
“Erdogan claims the corruption charges are a conspiracy orchestrated by followers of an Islamic movement which he insists has infiltrated the police and judiciary. The opposition says the bill, which still needs the president’s approval, limits the judiciary’s independence,” the Associated Press wrote.
Erdogan has accused U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his supporters for instigating the corruption investigation. Since the inquiry began last year, Erdogan’s government has either dismissed or reassigned thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors which critics say is an effort to sway the investigation.