Head of Istanbul bakers' union arrested for saying bread consumption makes Turks 'stupid'

Head of Istanbul bakers' union arrested for saying bread consumption makes Turks 'stupid'
The head of the bakers' union in Turkey's Istanbul was arrested after he implied Turks were 'stupid' for consuming too much bread and allegedly insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
2 min read
11 November, 2022
Bread is a staple of the Turkish diet [Getty]

Turkish authorities arrested the head of the Istanbul Bakers’ Union on Wednesday on charges of "insulting the Turkish nation" after he made allegedly disparaging comments regarding Turks and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Turks eat more bread than other countries," Cihan Kolivar said in a television interview on Monday. He added that eating bread made societies "stupid" and appeared to link its consumption to support for Erdogan.

"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."

He was accused of making a link between "stupidity" and supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who came to power as Prime Minister in 2003, later assuming the presidency in 2014.

Tens of thousands of people in Turkey, including journalists and activists, have been charged and convicted for allegedly insulting Erdogan since he became president.

Erdogan’s opponents blame his policies for Turkey’s current financial and economic woes. Inflation has reached 85.5 percent, while the value of the lira has plunged.

A spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party said Kolivar’s comments were "hateful".

"Kolivar’s words are hate speech. His statements on our nation and the bread are impudent," said Omer Celik.