Jun 11 2018

Turkish opposition using religion in presidential race, pro-government commentator says

The leftist main opposition candidate in Turkey’s June 24 presidential elections is using religion as a campaign tool, Fahrettin Altun, who works for a pro-government think-tank, said in a column for the Sabah newspaper.

Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce is the biggest challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the polls that will mark the change to an executive presidency. Five opposition candidates hope to stop Erdoğan getting the absolute majority he needs to win the presidency outright on June 24 and force a second round run-off two weeks later.

İnce, Altun said, “has been marketing religion like a true believer. Thanks to this, we have seen how religion has been used politically”.

Altun, who works for the pro-government think-tank the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), said Erdoğan and the previous leader of political Islam in Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan, had not used religion, but had represented the genuine political voice of the faithful.

Altun recalled comments he said İnce made in 2013 regarding the wearing of headscarves, a symbol of religious piety and topic of much political debate. According to Altun, İnce had said, “our respect for personal freedom is limitless. It is a lifestyle choice whether of not to wear it (a headscarf). But this (wearing a headscarf) is not freedom. It is giving up freedom”.


Altun said such comments, “reveal Muharrem İnce’s real face. Here is his hostility to women. Here is his opposition to headscarves. Here is his opposition to the nation.”