Erdoğan: Currency crisis the same as attack on call to prayer, Turkish flag

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and his wife Emine Erdogan (L) greet supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the sixth congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, on August 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said “attacks against the Turkish economy are no different than attacking the adhan [call to prayer] and the flag,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“The purpose is the same. The purpose is to bring Turkey and the Turkish people to their knees and hold them captive,” Erdoğan said in a video message on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

“Those who tried to make Turkey bow before them by using terror groups, traitors among us and plots, will soon see that Turkey will not give up on the exchange rate,” he added.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since its relations with the US administration were dramatically strained over a court decision to put American pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest after almost two years in pretrial detention rather than release him as demanded by the US administration.

Following the court ruling US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson were not freed.

After imposing economic sanctions on two Turkish ministers on Aug. 1 for their role in the detention of evangelical pastor Brunson, President Trump on Aug. 10 ramped up his sanctions on Turkey by doubling US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

A recent currency crisis caused a plunge in the Turkish lira, which has seen a drop of nearly 50 percent in value since the beginning of this year.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Aug. 16 said Erdoğan is deliberately using an ongoing row with the United States over the detention of pastor Brunson to cover up his huge failure in the economy.

“Everybody knew difficulties in the Turkish economy could lead to the appreciation of the dollar to up as much as 7 Turkish lira. Newspapers wrote and economists warned about it. Why did he [Erdoğan] not take measures two months ago? It was he who decided to go to snap elections to save himself from the worsening economic conditions.” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

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