Two officials from the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) were fired after they targeted İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was planning to hold a campaign rally in the central province of Konya on Monday, the Bianet news website reported.
The executives from the organization’s Konya branch targeted İmamoğlu on social media, calling on people in Konya to repeat an attack on the mayor’s campaign bus in the eastern province of Erzurum on Sunday.
Protesters pelted the İstanbul mayor’s campaign bus with stones while he was touring Turkey’s conservative heartland ahead of next weekend’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
İmamoğlu is campaigning on behalf of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance.
Ahmet Dağlı, one of the Kızılay executives in Konya, tweeted on Sunday evening, “Those who want to stone the devil can go to Anıt Square,” referring to a Muslim ritual that takes place during the pilgrimage to Mecca.
İmamoğlu was to hold his rally in Konya’s Anıt Square on Monday.
The other Kızılay executive, Abdullah Halit Üzülmez, tweeted, “The pilgrimage season this year has begun early,” posting a photo of the devil-stoning ritual by Muslim pilgrims in Mecca.
A statement from Kızılay said the remarks of the two officials in Konya were unacceptable and that they have both been fired.
Dağlı and Üzülmez’s names were also removed from Kızılay’s webpage.
The humanitarian group has come to public attention in recent days due to several controversies. Kızılay was widely criticized by Turkish opposition figures and the media for selling rather than donating tents to people made homeless by two powerful earthquakes that hit the country’s south in February.
Meanwhile, the popular İstanbul mayor has been promised a vice presidential post should Kılıçdaroğlu win.
Polls suggest that Kılıçdaroğlu and the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are locked in a dead heat a week from the election.