President Recep Tayyip Edoğan has reacted angrily to a social media debate among his supporters, warning that only the presidential spokesman can speak of his on behalf.
“A useless debate has recently been started in my name and that of my party [Justice and Development Party (AKP)]. The presidential spokesperson speaks on my behalf. Thus, no other person can speak for me. Those attempting to do so are causing unrest. We will not let them do it,” Erdoğan said at a youth fest in İstanbul.
“Never fall into those traps on social media,” Edoğan warned the young audience.
Ahead of an April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments, a heated debate started on social media among journalists, academics and trolls close to the government, accusing each other of either “exploiting the power of the government” or “betraying Erdoğan.”
Columnist Yıldıray Oğur was fired from the daily he worked for after criticizing staunch Erdoğan supporters.
Erdoğan conveyed strong messages to party critics on May 2 on his way back to Turkey from an official visit to India.
When asked about the recent debate among pro-AKP columnists, Erdoğan said one side of the debate comprised certain figures who had supported the AKP in the past, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
“However, I don’t believe they continued their support later,” Erdoğan said, adding that some among them changed their direction.
“Walking together on the same road and heartfelt companionship are important, and real colleagues walk together until the end,” he said.
“They say Islamists are being expelled from the party and are being replaced by non-Islamists. First of all, bringing a division between being an Islamist and not being an Islamist in the party’s political work is wrong. We are not looking at followers of a religious lodge,” added Erdoğan.