Turkish president declares imprisoned PKK leader Ocalan as the leader of opposition and links it to Women’s Day march

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who accuses opposition parties of being pro-terror ahead of 31 March elections, has taken his claim a step further by alleging the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) is the leader of the alliance, a news portal T24 reported.

“The leader of the terrorist organization is also the leader of the opposition,” Erdogan said during his speech at an election rally in the eastern province of Hakkari on Monday, referring to Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of PKK who has been in jail since 1999.

Erdogan, head of ruling AK Party (AKP), formerly called the secularist Republican’s People Party (CHP), pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and nationalist Good Party (IYI) an “alliance of dishonor.”

Voicing a self-proclaimed statement, Erdogan claimed that opposition parties cooperate with PKK, a rebellious group which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Erdogan’s statements drew rebuff by opposition leaders, including Meral Aksener, the leader of IYI, who asked him during her speech at a rally in late February, “How can you label 17 million voters as terrorists?”

Erdogan claims women marchers are connected to opposition

Erdogan went on, in Hakkari, accusing protestors celebrating Women’s Day on Friday in Istanbul of catcalling the Adhan, which is the Islamic call to prayer, by further claiming a relationship between women marchers and opposition parties, according to T24.

Erdogan insisted that thousands of women who gathered on March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day began to boo when the Adhan started, in an aim to disrespect it.

Attendees of the march, however, had earlier responded to Erdogan’s accusations saying they were booing and whistling for hours to protest a police blockade, and that it had nothing to do with Adhan.

“Police prevented marchers from proceeding through the usual route of 16 years and forced them to a place nearby a mosque. Now Erdogan dares blame protestors for disrespecting the Adhan. Nobody can distort the truth. Our revolt and our whistling were against police and against those who wanted to halt our march,” a press briefing on behalf of Feminist Night March stated.

“Who is behind those who booed, whistled and chanted rudely? They are the Republican People’s Party (CHP). They are Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). They are all together,” Erdogan argued.

“We do not respect those who do not respect our Adhan and our flag,” he added.

Several pro-government writers denounce Erdogan’s claim

The claim that women disrespected Adhan during the march was first published by a pro-government daily, Yenisafak.

Contrary to her own newspaper, Fatma Barbarosoglu, a columnist for the daily, posted a Twitter message on Monday denying Erdogan’s allegation.

“Please let us not blame the marchers for protesting the Adhan. It is not the same thing – to continue protesting while the mosque was reciting the Adhan, and to catcall the Adhan,” commented Barbarosoglu.

Cihan Aktas, another pro-government writer, posted a Tweet saying, “As if we are in the myth age instead of a knowledge society. Women marchers stated that they had nothing to do with the Adhan and they had not aimed at it. Despite this statement, what is the point to ignore it and then continue blaming? The Adhan is such a common and sensitive value that we cannot let the provocateurs spoil it.”

Erdogan’s harsh rhetoric is regarded by his critics as a bid to consolidate his base who are sensitive to religious symbols like Adhan and to terror-related discourse.

Opposition leaders mock President’s comments, greeting crowds with “Oh! Terrorists! How are you?”

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