News You Really Need To See: “Islam Center Stage as Turkish Election Campaign Enters Final Week”

“Islam Center Stage as Turkish Election Campaign Enters Final Week”

Reuters, May 30, 2015

Evoking the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and vowing the Muslim call to prayer would forever ring out, President Tayyip Erdogan put religion center stage on Saturday as campaigning for Turkey’s parliamentary election entered its final week.  Persuading religious conservatives, including pious Kurds and nationalists, to back the Islamist-rooted AK Party will be key in an election Erdogan hopes will bring him stronger presidential powers that opponents see as a threat to democracy. … Erdogan appeals to conservative Muslim Turks who feel they were treated as second-class citizens during decades of rule by secular parties.  He has spoken with scorn of the old secular elite. … Constitutionally banned from party politics as head of state, Erdogan has nonetheless delivered podium speeches around the country in recent weeks ahead of the June 7 election, berating the opposition and arguing for a presidential system. … Erdogan casts the main secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by Ataturk, as hostile to religion, but the biggest electoral threat is likely to come from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).  If it crosses the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament it would steal seats from AKP, potentially leaving it unable to form a majority government.  Seeking to win over pious Kurds, Erdogan has devoted much time to questioning the HDP’s Muslim credentials, describing them as followers of the Zoroastrian religion and accusing them of an insulting reference to the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam which worshippers face when praying.”

Quickie analysis:  Is Erdogan really intent on promoting theocracy or just taking a cue from the playbook of the US Republican Party, for example?

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