Turkey is following the US presidential race with great interest. Sensing the outcome of the election might significantly influence ties between Turkey and the United States, many local columnists have been discussing which new US president will be better for the US-Turkey relationship. Trump’s scandalously explicit remarks about women and sexuality must also be disturbing for any conservative Turk. Hence a recent headline in a pro-government tabloid read, “The anti-Islam Trump also turned out to be a pervert.”
Still, the pro-government media seems to be a bit more sympathetic toward Donald Trump, while anti-government media is siding with Hillary Clinton. This may sound quite surprising, for Turkey’s pro-government media is also pro-Islamic, and Trump is known for this unfriendly tone toward Muslims. But for Turks, their own political drama is more important than everything else. The July 15 attempted military coup was a breaking point in a myriad of ways. Clinton’s and Trump’s reactions to this traumatic event and Fethullah Gulen’s possible extradition shaped public opinion in Turkey. That’s when things took a clear turn, as the pro-government media, which previously criticized Trump for his “banning Muslims” stances, shifted toward him thanks to his clear support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Things got much more complicated for Clinton, who was seen as a supporter of the Gulen movement, which the government blames for the attempted coup.