Turkey’s Presidential Candidate Launches ‘unity’ Campaign
The main rival of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s presidential election launched his campaign on Thursday, positioning himself as a unifying figure against a dangerously polarising opponent.
“I am the presidential candidate of all parties. I am not close to one party more than any other. I’ll be the president of everyone: workers, drivers, the youth, the women, the oppressed,” Ihsanoglu told reporters in Istanbul.
Ihsanoglu criticised the brutal police crackdown against anti-government protesters that sparked last year’s unrest that left eight people dead and thousands injured.
“The young people who went to the park in the first day were great patriots. If the government had chosen dialogue over tear gas, we wouldn’t have experienced so much suffering,” said Ihsanoglu.
“I wouldn’t let anyone describe our youth, whose eyes glisten with love, as ‘looters’,” he said.
Ihsanoglu has also unveiled his campaign logo — a Turkish map represented as a wheat field shaped like a hunk of bread — a traditional symbol of co-existence in Turkey.
“Ekmeleddin, for bread,” reads Ihsanoglu’s campaign slogan, playing in Turkish on the similarity between the candidate’s first name and the Turkish word for bread “Ekmek”.
Born in Cairo to Turkish parents, 70-year-old Ihsanoglu stepped down in December as head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) during a tenure which saw him seek to build bridges between East and West.