Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had his lawyer file a complaint against pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, accusing him of "insulting" the president.

The indictment cited parts of Demirtas' speech at a HDP meeting in the southern province of Mersin on Saturday, in which he said Erdogan "wants to be the caliphate of Islam. But thieves cannot be caliphs." The statement refers to how Erdogan has steered Turkey to be a largely Islamist state supporting Hamas since taking power in 2002.

Erdogan's lawyer Huseyin Aydin filed the complaint to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office, charging Demirtas with "insulting the president" which is a crime according to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, reports the local Hurriyet Daily News on Monday.

According to the complaint Demirtas' remarks "cannot be considered within the scope of freedom of thought and expression."

They also "cannot be defended legally as they amounted to statements beneath one’s dignity and honor," claimed Erdogan's lawyer.

Erdogan's lawyers have filed hundreds of lawsuits over "insults" since he became president in August 2014, with those sued including schoolchildren, journalists, and opposition politicians.

Just last week a Turkish truck driver even sued his own wife for "insulting the president," showing how popular lawsuits have become for the pro-Erdogan camp.

Last December a Turkish court formed a council of "experts" to determine if a doctor who compared Erdogan to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings had insulted him and should be jailed - the doctor had already been expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey (THSK).

A 17-year-old teen was charged last December with "insulting" Erdogan on Facebook, and in January, a Turkish philosophy professor was accused of insulting Erdogan in an article in which he accused the president of corruption and violating the constitution. The professor said he was not giving an insult, but that Erdogan is "unable to distinguish strong criticism from an insult."

Even the former Miss Turkey has been unable to escape the Turkish president, and was last year prosecuted for social media posts deemed to be critical of Erdogan.

In addition to the insult charges, Erdogan has cracked down on local media as well. Last June, he filed a criminal complaint against a top daily newspaper and its editor for publishing images allegedly showing trucks belonging to the state intelligence service helping send weapons to Islamist rebels in Syria.