Turkey jailed a bakery union head for “publicly insulting the Turkish nation” on Nov. 9, state media reported, after he said society’s “stupid” fondness for bread explained why it had elected President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s governments for two decades.
Union for Bread Producers Chair Cihan Kolivar made the comments to broadcaster Haberturk on Monday as he spoke about the rising price of bread and Turkey’s soaring inflation.
“Bread is the staple food for stupid societies. 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,” Kolivar said.
“Since our society eats their fill with bread, such rulers have been ruling it for 20 years.”
An Istanbul court on Wednesday remanded him in custody pending trial, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported. Turkey is widely criticised by rights groups and Western allies for limiting freedom of speech.
Erdoğan’s ruling AK Party spokesperson Ömer Çelik 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,” Çelik said.