Turkish ruling party’s youth campaign faces backlash

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) youth chapter released a campaign video on Monday titled “Who are you?” featuring famous people from Islamic history and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Among the top responses to the tweet was, “I am the miner who got kicked in Soma,” referring to an adviser to Erdoğan kicking a miner following the 2014 disaster in western Turkey where 301 miners lost their lives in an explosion.

“You are young, just starting out,” says the narrator at the beginning of the video, showing the Kaaba before moving on to cite several Ottoman sultans. 

The video cites the Turkish soldiers fighting in the trenches during World War I, then moves on to show one of few women in it, Fatma the Black, a heroine of the Turkish war of independence. 

Alija Izetbegović, the first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina following its independence, is among the names cited, as well as “Conqueror of Quds Salah ad-Din Yusuf.”

The video mentions several people killed by the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), including district governor Muhammed Fatih Safitürk and teacher Aybüke Yalçın.

Eren Bülbül, Yasin Börü and Yasin Naci, who were killed in a PKK action, during the Kobani protests, and on the night of the July 15 coup attempt respectively, are also named in the video.

“You shouted out that the world was bigger than five at the United Nations,” says the video, referring to Erdoğan’s 2016 speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

“Palestine is (part of) your cause too, so is Kashmir,” it says, “you are Turkey,” as the image fades to a picture of Erdoğan.

“You are the hope of the Ummah, you are Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” it concludes.

Monday’s responses were mainly from supporters of the AKP and Erdoğan, while on Tuesday the opposition took notice.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Engin Özkoç responded on Tuesday, “I am Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who you couldn’t speak of,” referring to the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

“We are citizens frozen to death on the streets, we are students who commit suicide with 1 lira left in their accounts, we are the desolate drinking cyanide out of poverty, we are victims of workplace accidents and femicides, we are workers on strike, we are children growing up in the shadow of armoured vehicles, and thanks to you, we live by chance, without a future,” one Twitter user responded.

Among the responses were Gülistan Doku, a young woman who has been missing for 290 days, Abdulvahap Taş, who carried in a sack the frozen body of his three-year-old son who died when ambulances could not get to their village in time, Merve Çavdar, a teacher who committed suicide at 25 due to unemployment, Taybet İnan, who was killed by armoured vehicles during the months-long curfews in Şırnak, Fethi Şahin and Sefter Taş, two Turkish soldiers who were burned alive by ISIS, Servet Turgut, a Kurdish villager who was dropped from a military helicopter, Emine Akçay, a woman who committed suicide because she had no money to keep her children warm during the winter, Veysel Atılgan, a nine-year-old boy who was killed in an ISIS bombing in Ankara, and Nadira Kadirova, an Uzbek domestic worker who was killed with an AKP deputy’s gun.

“The video refers to the coming (Islamist poet Necip Fazıl Kısakürek’s) fifth epoch, i.e. a journey to the Islamic regime. So what is the fourth epoch?” asked one Twitter user. “The Republic, of course, which (Kısakürek) refers to as ‘a conviction to eternal damnation in the spirit plane after salvation on the material plane, in a murder not even occupation armies could carry out’.”

At the time of writing this article, there were more than 42,600 responses to the tweet.