Campaign against ones who want to turn Istanbul into Constantinople, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late Saturday said at a praying ceremony by the country's top religious body that people should join election campaign in Istanbul against ones who want to turn the city into Constantinople, news site Gazete Duvar reported.

The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) held a special teravih prayer in open air, extra prayers performed by Sunni Muslims at night during the holy month of Ramadan, with the participation of thousands of people. The special prayer marked the anniversary of the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, once called Constantinople when the city was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and centre of orthodox Christianity.

“This place is not Constantinople, but there are people who want to see here like that. We have 22 days against those who want to see this place like that,” Erdoğan said after the prayer referring to the rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23. 

Main opposition party's Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu narrowly won the March 31 vote with around 13,000 votes beating his ruling party rival, Binali Yıldırım. On May 6, Turkey's electoral board ordered annulation of the voting and a rerun for Istanbul mayoral elections on 23 June following an appeal by the ruling Justice and Development Party, citing electoral fraud and irregularities.