Veysel Dalci, the leader of a local branch of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, was charged with "insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk" after a military official spotted him chewing gum while laying a wreath at a statue of Ataturk on Sunday.
For those of you not up on your Turkish history, Mustafa Kemal was a hero of the First World War who later founded the modern secular Turkish state. "Ataturk" means "Father of the Turks." At least, I’m pretty sure it does. It might mean, "Turk Who Loathes Gum-Chewers."
Whether Ataturk hated gum or not, the official at the ceremony believed that Dalci was being disrespectful to Ataturk, which is apparently a crime in Turkey. Dalci admitted the gum was present but claimed he did not realize it at the time. "I noticed I had a gum in my mouth [only] after laying the wreath," he said. "I am very sorry" He also said that if he had realized it at the time, he would not intended to insult Ataturk anyway. His motive was only to freshen his breath after eating garlic. Indeed, had he not chewed the gum, he might have approached Ataturk with foul breath, which would have shown far greater disrespect for the country’s father and heroic leader.
He didn’t actually make that last point — I’m practicing my closing argument in case I get the call to defend the guy.
Link: AP via My Way News