Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been drawing fire from Western media over some of his more colorful comments, such as rallying Muslims to take control of Jerusalem. He has finally managed to isolate the source of all that Western media coverage portraying him as anti-Semitic: Jewish money.
In a rally ahead of Turkey’s legislative elections, Erdogan struck out against media such as the New York Times and UK Guardian criticizing his autocratic powers, heavy-handed governing style, and luxurious lifestyle. The NYT chided him for building an 1,150-room palace in Ankara. When a paper that spends much of its time defending Barack Obama’s taxpayer-funded parties, vacations, and golf outings says a head of state is living too large, it stings.
According to AFP, Erdogan hit back by accusing the Times of being out to get Turkey ever since it was the Ottoman Empire.
“Now, they are spitting out the same hatred on me,” Erdogan railed. “It’s clear who their patrons are. There is Jewish capital behind it, unfortunately.”
He also hammered the Guardian for daring to publish an editorial critical of Erdogan’s “growing autocracy.”
“Do you know what a British newspaper says about this election?” Erdogan asked his audience, referring to the Guardian. “It says the not fully-Westernized, poor Muslims are not being allowed to manage their own country! Who are you? You are impertinent! Know your limits. Since when were you given such authority?”
He topped this off by threatening Turkish media that claimed to catch their government sending arms to Syrian rebels, saying they would “pay a heavy price.”
It’s not a good sign when tens of thousands of volunteers are racing to the polls to ensure the legislative elections are reasonably clean. “Trust in the electoral system is declining, and 43 percent of eligible voters think Sunday’s polls will not be fair, according to a study published last month by professors Ali Carkoglu and S. Erdem Aytac of Koc University. In response, volunteers have rushed to join civil society monitoring groups,” reports Vice News.
The temptation for hanky-panky at the polls from Erdogan’s supporters is particularly large this time around, because the election will determine the fate of constitutional changes that would give the Prime Minister greatly increased power. (Reminder: “Know your place,” and don’t dare be “impertinent” enough to accuse him of hungering for autocracy.)
The Kurd-friendly People’s Democratic Party can deprive Erdogan of the legislative clout he needs to pass these constitutional revisions by scoring above 10 percent in the election, and they seem to have a decent chance of pulling it off, provided the ballot boxes aren’t stuffed. There were a lot of irregularities in the previous election, although before that, Turkish elections were seen as relatively clean. Actually, the rallies where Prime Minister Erdogan has been holding forth on the dangers of “Jewish capital” are technically illegal — the Prime Minister is constitutionally barred from directly influencing party politics.
Also, it would be nice if Turkey could get past the election without any more bomb attacks on People’s Democratic Party rallies. There was one on Friday that killed two people and injured 200.
“In this particular election, people are very polarized. With the bombings just yesterday, it will be, to say to the least, not a comfortable election,” said young former social-media CEO Sercan Celebi, who co-founded a ballot integrity watchdog group called Vote and Beyond. It sounds like maybe he doesn’t know his place, and is contemplating acts of aggravated impertinence.