A fierce critic of the governing AK Party (AKP) has lashed out at the party’s leader following his comments in reference to a march on International Women’s Day.
Ihsan Eliacik, a dissident theologian and well-known critic of the AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed the reactionary groups that marched are not self-styled but directed behind the closed doors.
Eliacik’s comments come after Erdogan accused hundreds of marchers who gathered at Taksim on March 8 for the 17th Feminist Night March of disrespecting Islam.
Erdogan said at an elections rally at the time: “They disrespected the call to prayer (adhan) by slogans, booing and whistling. If we closed our eyes to them for some votes, we couldn’t look at the faces of our fathers and sons. That’s why we’ll fight against these enemies of the call to prayer and the flag.”
The participants of the event, politicians from opposition parties and some pro-government journalists have since dismissed Erdogan’s allegations, arguing they had nothing to do with the adhan but as a part of the protest, they had been booing and whistling against police blockade and oppression on women in the country.
At the very evening of the rally, however, at least two different groups, a radical Islamist sect and nationalist youth of Grey Wolves, the grassroots organization of nationalist MHP, gathered in the same vicinity of the Feminist March and chanted “may the hands reaching out for the call to prayer be broken.”
Those aggressive groups, according to Eliacik, marched as part of a sinister plan, which actually aims to consolidate AKP voters under the tension of religious and nationalist symbols.
“As radical groups see the current tenure of an Islamist party as a holy conquest, they wouldn’t take an election defeat on the chin,” Eliacik, a prominent supporter of the Gezi events in 2013 and an advocate for a religious renaissance, said during an interview with T24.
He further claimed while the radical groups in Turkey have no potential to affect large crowds in Turkey, they could still resist after a possible AKP defeat in the upcoming elections of March 31, as Erdogan and his friends see voting a matter of do-or-die.
“Erdogan agitates the anger of such radical groups just to ensure his safety. He is implying that “you won’t be able to bring me to account even if I lose [the elections] as the mass behind me will take the streets and a civil war will break up,” said Eliacik.
For Eliacik, Erdogan has exploited the “insult to adhan” (call to prayer) polemic just to distract the public’s attention from real problems, including the economic crisis and unemployment.