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Turkish Islamist Candidates Dress Up as Ottoman Sultans in New Campaign Ads

Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidates in Turkey, from regional positions to the Turkish legislature, are donning medieval Ottoman garb in their advertising campaigns, in an attempt to harken back to the strength of the Islamist Ottoman Empire.

Hurriyet Daily News reports that several candidates have created election posters in their respective regions, in which they are wearing extravagant Sultan’s furs, robes, and capes. One candidate, Osman Yavuz, appears in his billboard wearing a börk, a furry 14th century hat. His city, Konya, was once capital of the Anatolian Seljuk Empire, he told Hurriyet, and the nod to his city’s history was an attempt to garner attention to its greatness. Yavuz has been touring Konya wearing the börk and driving a mobile billboard with his face on it.

Yavuz’s garb is somewhat understated compared to other candidates who have taken the Ottoman sartorial route. At least two candidates–Ersin Karababa of Tokat and Cihangir Tahir of Ankara–have taken to wearing a complete Sultan’s outfit in their propaganda.

 

Tahir has posted on Facebook two full albums of images of himself in a blue Sultan’s outfit. He also appears in multiple photos wearing a tight t-shirt bearing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s face:

The AKP candidates’ rush to portray themselves as patriots by wearing the clothing associated with imperial Turkey follows efforts by Erdogan himself to revive an interest in the history of his nation. Erdogan greeted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in January accompanied by 16 warriors, each dressed in the traditional fashion of one of the 16 states that has existed on Turkish soil. The display triggered some criticism and mockery among Turks, though some were punished–a professor was forced to resign from his post at Pamukkale University after tweeting of the 16 warriors: “which Turkish principality is the one in the bathrobe?”

Some have suggested that the rise in popularity of Ottoman culture in Turkish media has also been prompted by the success of the prime time dramatic television series The Magnificent Century, which focuses on the life of a young Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.

The AK majority party, led by Erdogan, is an Islamist party with a history of both supporting controversial Islamist groups internationally and receiving support from organizations like Hamas. Erdogan himself has attempted to stoke patriotism in the nation to his favor by claiming that Muslims discovered America before being massacred in the Western Hemisphere by Christopher Columbus.

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