From Gatestone Institute <[email protected]>
Subject Istanbul's Mayor: Erdoğan's Worst Nightmare
Date January 29, 2022 10:15 AM
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** Istanbul's Mayor: Erdoğan's Worst Nightmare ([link removed])

by Burak Bekdil • January 29, 2022 at 5:00 am
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* "If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey." — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
* It appears that [Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's] "terrorists" are actually people who are being probed for links with illegal organizations but who have not been prosecuted -- let alone being found guilty by courts.
* This kind of intimidation, further victimizing Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in the eyes of the voters, will simply boost his popularity -- and at a time when Erdoğan's ratings are plummeting.
* Erdoğan, it seems, did not want opposition mayors to gain further popularity by helping the poor.
* It would be premature to conclude that there will be a historic shift in Turkish politics in 2023. All the same, the reports are real, and so are Erdoğan's fears, panic and increasingly reckless governance.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been running a campaign of intimidation and hatred against Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu (pictured), which has paradoxically boosted him as a perfect contender against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the next presidential elections in 2023. According to polls, if the two go head to head, İmamoğlu would beat Erdoğan by 48.7% to 36.6%. (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkey's secular state establishment was shocked when a young militant Islamist won the mayoral elections in Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul, in 1994. "Who wins Istanbul wins Turkey," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at that time Istanbul's mayor, would often say. History would prove him right.

Erdoğan's tenure as Istanbul's mayor ended when in 1997 when he recited a pro-Islamist poem. "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers" earned him a 10-month prison term for "inciting religious hatred," four of which he served. In 2002, Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) swept to victory in national elections.

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