Turks in turmoil over statue of ‘gay Greek’

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Battle lines are drawn in the southern Turkish resort town of Antalya, with residents divided over whether town founder Attalus II Philadelphus was homosexual and whether a statue should be raised in his honor. Antalya was named after its founder, the Greek King Attalus of Pergamum (220-138 BC), who had the Stoa of Attalus – now restored – built in the Athenian Agora. «Attalus II was very important for the identity of our town,» said Mayor Bekir Kumbul. «Some people are launching ill-intentioned attacks because of (municipal) elections (next month), saying (Attalus) was gay. But that’s not true.» Nationalist groups oppose the idea of erecting a statue of Attalus to mark the town’s founding. They object to the king’s alleged homosexuality but also to his being Greek. Plans for the statue to be naked sparked protests, prompting town authorities to give Attalus a loincloth.