Bureaucrat in firing line over celebrity “black list” tweet

A senior Turkish bureaucrat’s tweet listing celebrities who have come out in support of Istanbul’s opposition mayoral candidate has drawn a strong public backlash. 

Muhammet Safi, the chair of the Presidential Archive Chamber in the Office of the Turkish President, shared a tweet, featuring a photo of a handwritten list of the celebrities, who publicly endorsed deposed Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, that read “for the record.”

The Istanbul mayor of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been forced to leave office after 20 days following a decision by Turkey’s election authority (YSK) to annul the March 31 local government election in which he trumped the candidate of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Following the YSK decision,  Imamoglu called on public figures to break their silence and speak out against the “injustice.”

Following Imamoglu’s statement, numerous celebrities responded to his call by endorsing the deposed mayor with the hashtag “everything is going to be fine.”

The popular singers and actors who publicly supported Imamoglu after YSK’s controversial decision included figures like the famous Turkish comedians Cem Yilmaz and Yilmaz Erdogan.

Tarkan, one of the few Turkish pop-singers who also has an international fan base, joined the chorus supporting Imamoglu on Tuesday with a post that read, “I couldn’t get a wink of sleep last night. However, the light that shone from the horizon was brighter than ever. I came to see that everything is going to be fine.”

Safi’s post raised has eyebrows and been labeled as a “blacklist” by many on Twitter.

The critical news portal Oda TV announced the incident as a “scandalous act of profiling.”

Istanbul’s prolonged election period

Ekrem Imamoglu won the Istanbul Mayoral race in the March 31 local elections with 13.900 votes ahead of his opponent, the ruling AKP’s candidate Binali Yildirim, according to the official results.

With the ruling party’s loss of the capital city Ankara by a significant margin as well as Istanbul by a narrow one, the local elections were viewed as a serious blow for Erdogan’s rule, for his fervent campaign turned the polls into a plebiscite on his administration according to analysts.

The AKP resorted to an extraordinary appeal to cancel the Istanbul mayoral elections, citing the assignment of polling clerks who are not public servants as a violation of the electoral regulations.

Two days before the YSK ruling Erdogan declared his stance on the matter, asserting that the elections need to be canceled and held again.

YSK’s re-run decision that came on Monday was taken with a 7 to 4 majority and resulted in the cancellation of Imamoglu’s mandate as well.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya will be the acting mayor of the city until the election date, set for June 23 by the election authority.

Turkish judiciary going nowhere fast’ says Gul on Istanbul re-run

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