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Erdogan's carefully crafted 'authenticity'

After a short film promoting the commemoration of the Battle of Gallipoli was broadcast across Turkey, the Turkish media is buzzing with discussion, with many upset over what they see as the president’s blatant manipulation of military history for political gain.
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When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mother died in October 2011, most Turkish television networks covered the funeral live. Millions of Turks watched Erdogan’s strict adherence to Islamist rituals at the cemetery, being the lead pallbearer, taking off his jacket and tie and sprinkling the first soil over the grave. I cannot forget the comments of my neighbor, a dedicated Erdogan follower: “Did you see it? The man is a prime minister but he is burying his mother just like us. Did you see him jump into the grave? I adore his authenticity.”

Since then, I have frequently thought of Erdogan’s "authenticity," his being down-to-earth. We may approve of him or not, but we have to admit that Erdogan’s intimate appeal to the conservative Anatolians who make up the majority of the voting constituency plays a major role in his political success.

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