Turkish PM Erdoğan complains of being called ‘even uglier things, Armenian’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sparked a fresh debate while trying to defend himself for labeling his opponents according to their minority religious or ethnic identity.

“They have also said a lot of things about me. One of them came and said I was a Georgian. Then another came up and, I beg your pardon, called me uglier things, saying I was Armenian,” Erdoğan said during a live interview on Aug. 5, adding that he was a purebred Turk.

“What I have learned from my grandfather, my father and all of them is that I am Turkish. That’s it,” he said in remarks that have caused great controversy.

The Turkish prime minister has repeated several times during his campaign that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is an Alevi, Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş is a Zaza-origin Kurd, and the CHP and other parties’ candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu is “not even a native” for being born in Egypt, albeit to Turkish parents.

During his speeches, Erdoğan has consistently reminded the nation’s populace that he is a “Sunni.”
His comments triggered accusations of sectarianism, causing a backlash on social media and prompting the left-leaning daily BirGün to bitingly respond with the front-page headline: “Kılıçdaroğlu is Alevi, Demirtaş is Zaza, İhsanoğlu is Egyptian and you are a thief.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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