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Artist Deniz Çakır, against whom an investigation has been launched regarding the allegation that she insulted two women wearing headscarves in a shopping mall in İstanbul, gave her deposition at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan today (January 11).
Deposing to İstanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Murat Çağlak, Çakır recounted the incident as follows:
"On the day of incident, we went to a cafe at Zorlu Center shopping mall with my friends for a birthday celebration. After some time, two women came and sat at the next table. The glances and movements of those women towards me were in a judgmental and harassing manner.
"Since the behavior of those two women was unusual, I was disturbed. After the friends of those two women came, moved to another table by making us realize that they were uncomfortable with our presence and continued looking at me in the same way, I also looked at them as if asking 'What is going on?'. There emerged such a tension between us."
Referring to the accusations of the women, who stated that Çakır and her friends took their photographs after this incident, Çakır said,
"In the meanwhile, I and my friends were taking each other's photographs and having a conversation. But, this group of women thought that we were taking their photos. We told them we were not taking their photos. My friend Hander Canar even showed them the photographs."
Stating that the women continued insisting on their claims regarding photographs, Çakır recounted that the matter was over after that and no further arguments or incidents took place between them and the women while the women were leaving the cafe.
Recounting the incident in these words, Deniz Çakır refused having made any insulting gestures or remarks towards the women. Çakır emphasized, "I did not say to those women, ' I am an Atatürkist, here is the Turkey of Atatürk, not Arabia. You go to Arabia or Iran'."
In her deposition, Deniz Çakır also stated that she has struggled against discrimination all through her life and added, "I am sorry that I have been obliged to depose for such an issue."
Speaking to the journalists in front of the courthouse after her deposition, Deniz Çakır said,
"I firmly rejected all of the accusations against me. I have never discriminated against anyone based on whether they are men or women, wear headscarves or not, or based on their lifestyle, gender, religion, belief or color. On the contrary, I participated in social projects to unite people.
"I have struggled a lot, not to separate people, but to unite them. I did not do any of the mentioned acts. I have already made my deposition. The accusations are in contrast with my stance. An artist does not discriminate against women because they do or do not wear headscarves."
Seven women filed a criminal complaint against artist Deniz Çakır on the allegation that she insulted them while they were sitting in a cafe at the Zorlu Center shopping mall in İstanbul. On January 6, 2019, on a Sunday, an investigation was launched against Çakır on charge of "insult." Releasing a statement on her Instagram account after some time, the artist said that the accusations did not reflect the truth, adding that video footages of the incident could be watched if needs be.
After this incident, Deniz Çakır was targeted by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who claimed that Çakır said to the veiled women, 'You should go to Saudi Arabia."
* Photograph: Demirören News Agency (DHA)