‘Secular Turkey’ out, Erdogan all in: Brandishes Quran as campaign prop

‘Secular Turkey’ out, Erdogan all in: Brandishes Quran as campaign prop

[Ed. – Rubicon, crossed.  Check.]

In an unprecedented gesture by a Turkish politician in recent times, Erdogan waved a copy of the Muslim holy book the Koran translated into Kurdish during a rally this week in the Kurdish-majority southeast.

“Turkey has never seen a president who leads an election campaign with a copy of the Koran in his hand,” Professor Ilter Turan of Istanbul’s Bilgi University, told AFP.

The ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) — co-founded by Erdogan and in power since 2002 — is widely expected to win the June 7 legislative polls but faces an uphill struggle to win the two-thirds majority it needs to change the constitution. …

Erdogan’s…use of religion to deter Turkey’s Kurds — who account for some 20 percent of the population — from backing the HDP [People’s Democratic Party] has raised eyebrows in a country whose political system rests on the secular foundations laid by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at its creation in 1923.

“Erdogan is trying to base his campaign on religion and melt down ethnicity-based policies in this particular region in order to boost the AKP’s votes,” Turan said. …

Necip Taylan, an AKP lawmaker from 2007 to 2011 and retired professor, told AFP that Erdogan’s embrace of Islam was genuine. …

But Taylan said he was “concerned in general with the emphasis on religion and sacred values in political debates.”

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