Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Özgür Özel at a press conference on Sunday claimed that during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election campaign visits, mosques in that particular area often postponed the call to prayer if Erdoğan arrived late.
“All the local journalists and regulars at the mosques in Manisa province know very well that when the president or the prime minister comes here, similar things frequently happen,” Özel said, as reported by the Cumhuriyet daily.
After Özel first made the claim on a Saturday TV show, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said, “It is not even a claim but a clear lie.”
Özel responded to Bozdağ by saying that even in the media there were many reports showing that the call to prayer had been delayed on several occasions when ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials held a campaign event.
“The record delay was on May 15, 2015 at Kırıkkale Nur Mosque. Erdoğan had arrived 50 minutes late to Friday prayer. The call to prayer was made exactly 50 minutes late. This is Erdoğan’s record,” Özel said.
Several media outlets, including the Sözcü daily and the T24 news website, had reported the incident in May 2015.
Özel also displayed a statement from a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) official in 2015 claiming the call to prayer had been delayed due to a AKP rally in the town.
The AKP and MHP formed an alliance in advance of parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24.
“We want all journalists to listen to an audio recording. Everyone can investigate. June 9, 2018. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a rally in Ankara. Mid-afternoon prayer was supposed to be called at 4:50 p.m. Erdoğan was speaking at the time. We never heard a call to prayer,” Özel said.