HDP deputy goes shopping in a BIM store in protest of political lynching
The CEO of a giant retail chain in Turkey has been left isolated by the representatives of the industry and had to leave his post as the chairperson of the Food Retailers Association after he was targeted by the leader of an ultra nationalist party and threatened by an organized crime boss.
Galip Aykac, the CEO of BİM, was first accused by Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), of being the source of high inflation in Turkey.
Bahceli said chains like BIM have raised prices, and he called on authorities to investigate their links with the Gulen movement - designated a "terrorist group" and dubbed "FETO" or "Fetullahist Terror Organization" by the government.
When Aykac responded to the accusations, he was this time threatened by crime boss Kursad Yilmaz, who said, "No matter who, which power you're relying on, the street corners where you set up your shops will be your grave."
After the executive board of another retail chain, Sok Markets, criticized not Bahceli or Yilmaz but Aykac, saying "they did not approve of such statements," Aykac resigned from his post in the Food Retailers Association on Monday.
In protest of the political lynching and against threats Aykac was subjected to, deputy and prominent rights activist Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu posted a video on Twitter showing himself going shopping in a BIM store.
He said in the video:
"You can see the terrorist food items in the background. Let's pick up a couple of items. I'm picking up some pretzels, some cocoa biscuits and a chocolate bar. You can see that they are very terrorist chocolates (...) Now that we are buying these terrorist food items, we'll see what Ankara Chief Prosecutor Ahmet Akca will say about it. He might accuse us of 'spreading terrorist propaganda,' of perhaps of 'aiding and supporting a terrorist organization.' I invite the chief prosecutor to launch an investigation."
BIM was founded in 1995, a year after Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected Istanbul mayor, by business people close to Erdogan and other officials of the Welfare Party.
the pioneer of hard-discount retail stores in Turkey, BIM quickly grew into a giant chain and became a public company, with over 70 percent of its shares being held by investors. The vast majority of its remaining shares are currently held by members of co-founder Topbas family.
BIM has 9,451 stores in Turkey, 578 in Morocco, and 300 in Egypt.