A controversial Turkish actor’s outspoken comments against the consumption of alcohol have landed him in a bit of a pickle.
The problem, according to the very popular online Turkish news portal Oda TV, is that Erkan Petekkaya actually owns a restaurant that has been serving alcohol. But if that was not enough, a television anchor claims that the restaurant was in fact serving it illegally.
Previously Petekkaya came in for some harsh criticism in Turkey when in a recent interview in the mass circulating daily newspaper Posta he suggested a ban on the sales of alcohol and tobacco.
The issue of alcohol and tobacco in Turkey is a sensitive one, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting abstinence. His government has heavily taxed alcohol sales.
Erdogan’s views on the secular lifestyle of many of the country’s citizens have not gone down well with many, with secularists perceiving Erdogan’s stance as an intrusion into their personal lives.
During the Gezi Park protests in 2013 Erdogan accused the protesters of entering a mosque while drinking and also placed increased restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol, which sparked further protests.
“I want them (the protesters) to know that I want these (restrictions) for the sake of their health. Whoever drinks alcohol is an alcoholic,” said Erdoogan on Jun 2, 2013.
But Petekkaya brought attention to himself over alcohol with over his comments that were published in Posta, with many criticizing him for his involvement in religious and political matters. Some opposition figures have labeled his comments in Posta as extension of his pro-governmental stance.
According to OdaTV, Petekkaya has owned the restaurant in Istanbul since 2011.
In the backlash against Petekkaya’s comments on alcohol, many social media users posted pictures on social media showing that they had consumed alcohol at the restaurant. OdaTv published a selection of these social media posts.
Another allegation made by an anchorman, Caglar Cilara, who works for Halk TV, a mouthpiece TV channel of the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) in Turkey claims that this sale of alcohol at the restaurant is illegal.
“Petekkaya who suggests a ban on the sales of alcohol not only drinks alcohol himself but also operates a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages, and this service is illegal. Because it has no license for selling alcoholic beverages,” Cilara posted from his social media account.
Petekkaya is no stranger to alcohol. It was big news in Turkey when Petekkaya traveled abroad to treat his alcohol addiction.
Responding to the backlash over his comments in Posta, Petekkaya said the intention of his comments reflecting his stance against alcohol and tobacco had been is based on their negative effects on health. Petekkaya says he was misunderstood by the public and his words were not products of zealotry.
“I suffered enough from alcoholism. The phrase I uttered to merely warn the youth, to whom we have the duty of being role models as public figures, against the harms of tobacco and alcohol is mistaken as if I was against these products out of zealotry” he continues.
Saying he is deeply upset by the public reaction, he adds “Maybe I should have said they should be avoided instead of suggesting a ban. I want to stress that I am so sad because of the comments that were made bundling a humanitarian sentence with religion and politics.”
Petekkaya is an infamous actor in Turkish TV series world. He acted in 19 different tv series and films. Once, he was nominated as the best actor of the year in 2005 at “White Pearl Awards” for his role at the “Dog” tv show.