Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said the İstanbul mayoral election will be a choice between his party’s candidate, Binali Yıldırım, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, apparently establishing an equivalence between the country’s opposition and the president of Egypt, the Independent’s Turkish service reported.
Speaking at a rally in İstanbul on Wednesday, Erdoğan made reference to Mohamed Morsi, the late Egyptian president from the Muslim Brotherhood who in 2013 was toppled in a military coup d’état led by el-Sisi and who on Monday died of a heart attack at a court hearing.
“It’s the same el-Sisi mindset that associates Erdoğan’s fate with that of Morsi,” he said. “That is why we need to work hard. We’re not afraid of them.”
“Morsi was struggling on the floor for 20 minutes. The officials did not step in.”
“We will keep an eye on this,” he added. “We will do what is necessary to ensure Egypt answers for this before international courts.”
Turkey’s relations with Egypt were strained after Erdoğan’s government opposed el-Sisi and supported the anti-coup protests that led to the death of a number of people.
Opposition nominee Ekrem İmamoğlu said Erdoğan’s remarks were “not worthy of attention.”
“My name is Ekrem İmamoğlu, and everyone knows that. I wish the president were rather interested in Turkey’s problems,” he told journalists, in criticism of Erdoğan’s recent move to start campaigning for Yıldırım just a few days before the election.
İstanbul is scheduled to vote for mayor on June 23 in a repeat election that was decided by the country’s election authority, which canceled İmamoğlu’s earlier victory in the nationwide local polls on March 31.
Erdoğan’s campaign rhetoric prior to March 31 had also included several references to an armed attack on a mosque in New Zealand, particularly to a number of Islamophobic messages found on the assailant’s weapon.