Erdoğan likens opposition mayoral candidate İmamoğlu to Egypt’s Sisi

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday referred to the main opposition Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu as Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led a military coup in 2013, removing the country’s first democratically-elected president from office.

Erdoğan has been using analogies between Turkey and Egypt’s domestic affairs to convey messages to his supporters since the Arab Spring protests that took off in Egypt in 2011.

“Will we say Sisi or Binali Yıldırım on Sunday?” independent news site T24 quoted the Turkish president as asking a crowd gathered in Istanbul’s Sancaktepe district.

“We are not going to surrender our country and Istanbul to this fascist mindset on Sunday,‘’ he said.

The main opposition secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate İmamoğlu and Erdoğan’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Yıldırım are set to face off in a revote for the mayoral seat of Turkey’s largest city this weekend.

İmamoğlu won a narrow victory in the March 31 election, however, lost his seat as mayor 17 days later when the country’s top election council ruled to annul the polls following an appeal by the AKP.

Erdoğan’s analogy arrives two days after the death of jailed former Egyptian president and leader of the now-outlawed Islamic Brotherhood movement Mohamed Morsi.

The Turkish president pointed to pro-opposition social media accounts, which he said “liken his fate to that of Morsi,‘’ stating, “this is a Sisi mindset.‘’

CHP's İmamoğlu responded to Erdoğan's reference to him as Egypt's Sisi later on Wednesday, stating that he wished the Turkish president would occupy himself with Turkey's problems instead of campaigning for Sunday's election.

“My name is Ekrem İmamoğlu. Our nations knowns my name very well and it came to like it very much,” İmamoğlu said.

Morsi, who suffered from diabetes and kidney disease, collapsed in court on Monday and many believe his death was a result of his harsh prison conditions and healthcare neglect under the regime of  Sisi, who ousted and imprisoned him in 2013.

Erdoğan maintains close ties to Morsi’s Islamic Brotherhood and has been an outspoken critic of the former Egyptian president’s ouster.

Turkey’s state-run Religious Affairs Directorate held symbolic funerals, one of which Erdoğan attended, across the country on Tuesday to commemorate the former Islamic Brotherhood leader.

Erdoğan, who managed to rise to power in a country that was being governed under the military’s tutelage according to many political scientist and analysts, likens any type of threat to his government as a coup attempt, including the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

Turkey witnessed a failed coup attempt in 2016, which, according to the Turkish government, was orchestrated by the Gülen movement, a religious group.