ISTANBUL— Turkey's Islamic-rooted government has condemned an attack allegedly by conservative Muslims on people drinking cocktails outside an Istanbul art gallery, calling for understanding and respect for one another's way of life in this largely Muslim but secular country.
Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said Thursday his government will seek the heaviest punishment for the culprits who beat and slightly injured five guests drinking in the street outside the gallery in Istanbul's Tophane district on Tuesday evening. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam.
Gunay called on the gallery to the respect family values of the neighborhood while also urging respect for different lifestyles and their right to be and work in that area.
Turkey is aspiring to become the first Muslim member of the European Union.