Waging a nonstop “yes” campaign ahead of a referendum on April 16 on the switch to an executive presidency, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said naysayers risk losing both worlds, the Diken news website reported.
“Do not risk your world and afterlife by opposing it [the executive presidency],” said Erdoğan during a rally in Bursa, underlining that an executive presidency would bring stability to Turkey.
President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are pursuing an aggressive propaganda campaign ahead of the referendum on constitutional amendments that will open the way for a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency.
Erdoğan as well as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım accused the potential “no” voters in the referendum of taking sides with terrorist organizations.
Imams of mosques have also been participating in the government campaign. An imam in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district accused naysayers of “treason” and “ignorance,” while an imam leading a group of Turks during Umrah in Mecca labeled those in the “no” camp “infidels.”
Speaking during a live show on the pro-government Beyaz TV in early February, Vehbi Güler, a theologian and a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, pointed out that it was Satan who said “no” to God’s order to bow down before Adam and implied that those who vote against the amendment package in the April referendum are similar to Satan, who challenged God’s orders.
Sacit Arvasi, a US-based Turkish theologian whose religious sermons are widely popular among his Facebook followers, blasted pro-government circles for misleading people about religion by attributing divine characteristics to President Erdoğan and asked, “Do you consider him to be God?”
“You have everything, television, newspapers, millions [of money], thousands of paid people working [for you] in social media. Advertisers, all of them in your hands. Make do with them,” he said.
Criticizing recent remarks by a pro-Erdoğan cleric declaring that people who plan to vote against Erdoğan’s desires are partners of Satan, Arvasi angrily said, “Keep your dirty hands off our religion, our faith, our Quran.”