ANKARA — With less than four weeks to go before the country’s critical election on May 14, Turkey’s presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu garnered record attention by openly speaking about his Alevi faith — which many have seen as one of his main disadvantages in rallying support behind him.
Speaking in a video message titled “Alevi” released late Wednesday, Kilicdaroglu, leader of the country’s main opposition, said identities are assets that make people who they are. “Dear young people, dear young people who will vote for the first time in the elections, it's time we talk about a very private, very sensitive subject tonight,” he said in a fatherly tone. “I’m an Alevi … I’m a Muslim.”
Kilicdaroglu’s tweet, which included the video that has been viewed more than 73 million times as of this writing, marks the first time he has spoken about his faith since the start of the election campaign. His faith has been one of the top contentious issues in the lead-up to his presidential candidacy, as many — even including officials of the Republican People's Party (CHP)-allied Good Party — have argued that Turkey’s conservatives and Islamists would shy away from voting for an Alevi.
“Our identities are what makes us who we are. ... We cannot choose them,” said the top Erdogan contender. “But there are very important things in life that we can choose. We can choose to be a good person, to be honest, to be ethical, to be righteous, to be virtuous and fair. We can choose to lead a better life in a free and prosperous country.”