Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has escalated his rhetoric against his political opponents, accusing them of being “pro-LGBT” during a rally in Istanbul on Sunday. With Turkey’s presidential and legislative election approaching, polls suggest that Erdogan may face his most significant challenge yet in his two decades in power.
Erdogan’s AK Party supporters also threw stones at Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, during a rally in the eastern city of Erzurum. The incident left nine people injured, prompting Imamoglu to leave the site for his safety.
Erdogan addressed his Muslim support base in Istanbul, asserting that his party and its coalition partners would never support LGBT rights. He went on to claim that “We will bury those pro-LGBT in the ballot box,” as he tried to rally his base against the opposition.
The president has repeatedly targeted the LGBT community, calling its members “deviants” on numerous occasions. During the rally, Erdogan also criticized the leader of the main opposition alliance, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, calling him a “drunk” and accusing him of being sympathetic to terrorists.
More than 40,000 people have died in Turkey’s conflict since the 1980s, and Erdogan has accused Kilicdaroglu of receiving support from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Several in the opposition have criticized Erdogan’s divisive rhetoric, fearing it may incite violence.
The violence in Erzurum has also raised concerns about the safety of opposition figures during the election campaign. Imamoglu warned his followers of the risks and vowed to file a criminal complaint against the governor and police head of Erzurum for failing to prevent the violence.
Erdogan’s past successes in Erzurum indicate his significant support base in the region, with him receiving 72% of the vote during the 2018 presidential election. However, with polls indicating a close election, Erdogan’s use of divisive rhetoric may be a sign of his campaign’s growing desperation.
In conclusion, Erdogan’s targeting of the LGBT community and his opponents’ alleged connections to terrorism have raised concerns about the safety of opposition figures during the election campaign. The violence against Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, has highlighted the risks involved in challenging Erdogan’s rule, with the president’s rhetoric becoming increasingly divisive as he tries to rally his base.