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Erdogan gets surprise presidential rival

Academic Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the opposition’s joint candidate for Turkey’s presidential elections, has the potential to change the game.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu speaks during the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous (QATAR - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS) - RTX10HR9
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Turkey’s two largest opposition forces, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), have delivered a big political surprise by nominating Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former secretary-general of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint candidate for the presidential elections in August. The decision, announced June 16, caught the overwhelming majority off guard, for Ihsanoglu was never mentioned among possible candidates up to that point and is not even a well-known figure to the masses.

For some hard-core secularists and Kemalists in the main opposition CHP, the surprise came with a negative: Ihsanoglu — an internationally renowned scholar of Islamic culture and science history — is a pious man.

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