I was all out of breath mints

Veysel Dalci says he had no intention of running afoul of the criminal justice system in Turkey. But now that he has, he couldn't be more sorry, even though his punishment may not turn out to be especially severe. In all probability , Dalci considered himself safer than most people before police in the town of Ordu came to arrest him. After all, he's a respected pharmacist, father of two young children, and chairman of the local branch of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party. But all that earned him no points when the commander of a nearby Army base complained about the way he'd approached a monument to the late Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, to place a floral wreath on National Sovereignty Day. Was Dalci obviously intoxicated? Did he curse? Perhaps he couldn't resist a bit of clowning? No, none of these. Instead, he was chewing gum ... to mask the odor of garlic he'd eaten. That was, the Army man groused, disrespectful to Ataturk's memory, which is a crime under Turkish law. Dalci might have skated, but his party is Islamic-based, whereas the military regards itself as guardian of the secular principles on which Ataturk founded the nation from the ashes of the Ottoman empire.

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