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AKP's Istanbul campaign sinks to new lows

Turkey's ruling AKP has insinuated that the opposition's winning mayoral candidate for Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu is secretly Greek to discredit his campaign in a move that seemed to backfire.
Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), shakes hands with a vendor at a vegetable market in Istanbul, Turkey, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC1350151BB0

As the campaign for the controversial do-over of the Istanbul mayoral elections heats up, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its supporters are employing a new strategy to discredit the main opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu. They claim his candidacy is being supported by Turkey’s longtime enemy Greece because Imamoglu is secretly Greek and by extension, Christian. The claim is based on Imamoglu's roots in Trabzon, a province on the Black Sea ruled in ancient times by Persians and Greeks and known as Pontus.

The parry by the AKP's deputy chair, Nurettin Canikli, was typical. He said, “The Greeks are saying Ekrem Imamoglu is Greek. There are many questions and doubts. You should prove that your spirit, heart and mind are with the Turkish nation.”

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