An election poster of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been hung on the wall of a mosque in the western province of Bursa, bringing more criticism to the president and his Islamic-rooted party, both of which are accused of exploiting religious symbols for political gain.
Turkey is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, and Erdoğan, who was elected president in 2014 and 2018, is seeking reelection.
Erdoğan’s election poster on the wall of the Ahmet Dai Mosque in Bursa’s Osmangazi district was brought to public attention by an opposition politician from the İYİ (Good) Party.
İYİ Party Bursa provincial chairman Mehmet Hasanoğlu tweeted a photo of the poster on the wall of the mosque on Monday, mentioning Bursa Governor Yakup Canbolat and the Bursa Mufti’s Office and asking if they can explain the “scandalous” situation.
“Mosques are our holy places, and this evil you’ve done to these places is enough to make you leave power,” said the politician.
Bursa Kayhan Mah. Ahmet Dai Camii…
Camiler kutsalımızdır ve bu mekanlarımıza yaptığınız bu kötülük bile tek başına gitmenize gerekçedir.
— Dr. Mehmet Hasanoğlu 🇹🇷 (@DrMehmethsngl) May 1, 2023
The İYİ Party is part of an opposition alliance that supports Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
This is not the first time Erdoğan has sparked criticism for using religious symbols during his election campaigns.
He delivered a speech in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque in İstanbul on the first day of Eid al-Fitr on April 21 following Friday prayers during which he attacked the opposition and promised to make them “politically dead” on May 14.
He allowed the crowd to boo the opposition during the gathering.
In yet another controversial move, an imam in Turkey’s central province of Yozgat used the minaret of a local mosque last month to urge people to attend an AKP election rally at which President Erdoğan was expected to make an appearance.
According to a video shared by journalist İsmail Saymaz, the imam asked people to attend Erdoğan’s address planned for April 26 as part of his campaign for the presidential election.
“Our president will come Yozgat [today] at 3 p.m. for the opening ceremony of a high-speed train line and the [election] campaign rally. You are all invited,” the imam said from the minaret.
The AKP has frequently been accused of incorporating political issues into mosques and using the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) as an instrument to serve its political Islamist aims.
The directorate, the budget of which outstripped seven out of 17 Turkish ministries last year, is frequently criticized for being politicized under the AKP government, to the extent that President Erdoğan compared the staff and imams of the directorate to “members of an army” in 2018.