Salahaddin Hünü, the chairman of an İzmir tradesmen’s association, suggested that those who don’t vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate will be struck down by God, the TR724 news website reported on Wednesday.
Hünü made the comments during a visit by Nihat Zeybekci, the AKP’s candidate for mayor of İzmir who is campaigning for Turkey’s local elections scheduled to take place on March 31.
“I am satisfied with our [future] mayor. You will all be satisfied, too. Look, God will strike down whoever doesn’t vote for the AKP,” Hünü said.
The AKP nominee reacted to the Hünü’s claim by suggesting that it might be “misunderstood,” to which Hünü replied, “They can take it however they want.”
This is not the first time such religion-filled remarks have been made by AKP members and sympathizers to convince the electorate to vote for their party.
At the end of January former AKP cabinet member İsmet Yılmaz claimed that voting for the ruling party in the local elections would serve as a “document” ensuring the voters’ salvation on judgment day.
In the past, AKP campaign events witnessed several comments implying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a caliph. Some went so far as to suggest that he represents divine attributes or that touching him counts as worship.
Some religious scholars close to Erdoğan such as Hayrettin Karaman issued fatwas that labeled those cast votes against Erdoğan’s will as “opponents of Islam” and provided Islamic justification for cracking down on dissidents.