By Izzet Taskiran and Atilla Altuntas
ISTANBUL/STOCKHOLM (AA) - An advertisement in Istanbul's main Ataturk International Airport on Friday warned travelers against high number of rape incidents in Sweden, after a political dispute between Turkey and Sweden emerged over a tweet.
"Travel Warning! Did you know that Sweden has the highest rape rate worldwide?" the news ticker said in Turkish and English on billboards at the airport's international terminal.
The warning message, accompanied by a large of copy of the front page of Gunes newspaper, read: "Rape country Sweden", describing the European country as having the highest rate of rapes in the world.
The headline got a quick reaction from the Swedish media. The daily newspaper Aftonbladet described the advertisement as "a new attack in Swedish-Turkish tension."
The move came days after a diplomatic dispute in which the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted against Turkey, accusing the country of allowing child rape.
"Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse," Wallstrom tweeted.
The controversial comments came after reports in Swedish media referred to an earlier Turkish Constitutional Court decision on child abuse cases.
Sweden's chargé d’affaires in Ankara was called to the Turkish ministry and Turkey said the tweet was based on “distorted information”.
"It is a scandal," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, highlighting the efforts of the Turkish government to prevent and fight against child abuse.
Cavusoglu said the parliament had recently approved a law which increased the punishment for such crimes.
The Turkish minister also voiced concern about the spread of anti-Turkey and anti-Islam rhetoric across Sweden.
Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, also tweeted there was no legal gap in the punishment for child abuse. Bozdag wrote the remarks of the Swedish minister – if not "malevolent" – were based on distorted information.
Referring to Article 103 of Law no: 5237 of Turkish Penal Code, Bozdag said:
"Any person who abuses a child sexually is sentenced to imprisonment from eight years to 15 years if the sexual attempt is against children who are under the age of 15 or against those [who have] attained the age of 15 but lack of ability to understand the legal consequences of such act."
The second part of the article reads: "In case of performance of sexual abuse by inserting an organ or instrument into a body, the offender is sentenced to imprisonment of 16 years."