ErdoIan attacks critics at rally held to celebrate conquest of Istanbul

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at domestic and international critics of the government at a gathering in Istanbul on Sunday, an annual event held in celebration of the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Speaking at a joint rally with prime minister and Justice and Development Party (AK Party)hairman Ahmet Davutoilu in Istanbuland’s Yenikapi district on Sunday, Erdogan targeted the governmentand’s and his opponents with harsh words, and once again implicitly campaigned for the AK Party he co-founded. One of Erdoganand’s targets was The New York Times, which recently angered the Turkish president with an editorial which urged the US and other NATO allies to ask the Turkish president to turn away from the andquotdestructive pathand” he is on. and”There is a rag called the New York Times. Whatever it writes about us today, they wrote the same things about Abdandulhamid in 1896,and” Erdogan claimed, referring to Abdandulhamid II, the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish president further claimed that the NY Times has close ties with the Gandulen movement, which is inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gandulen, and the and”Armenian lobbyand” in the US. and”You wonand’t achieve your goals until the last flag is lowered, the last ezan [call to prayer] is recited in this country,and” he said in remarks directed at the US newspaper. In an editorial titled andquotDark clouds Over Turkey,andquot the publication last weekend pointed to criticsand’ fear that a new crackdown is starting in order to ensure that Erdoganand’s AK Party wins in the upcoming parliamentary election slated for June 7. Erdogan has not made it a secret that he wants to see the ruling AK Party win the necessary number of seats so that he can expand his presidential powers. andquotThat kind of brute manipulation of the political process would be a serious mistake, further weakening the countryand’s battered democracy and tainting whatever victory might emerge,andquot the editorial warned. Erdogan had previously slammed the daily and told it to and”know its place.and” As the June 7 general election approaches, Erdogan is increasing the number of rallies he is holding across the country in an apparent effort to increase popular support for the ruling AK Party, of which he was the leader until he was elected president last August. The president this time used the 562nd anniversary of Istanbuland’s conquest by Ottoman Turks as an opportunity to indirectly campaign for the AK Party. The celebrations were organized by the Istanbul Governorand’s Office and the Istanbul Municipality. Davutoilu also spoke at the celebrations and called for support for his party in the June 7 elections.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman