On May 14th a new parliament and head of state will be elected in Turkey. The latest polls show that President Erdogan and his religious fundamentalist government cannot be sure of emerging victorious from the elections. Therefore, as in the past, potential voters in the European diaspora are now being activated. The Sultan’s election campaigners make their way to Germany, Switzerland, Belgium to ensure the success of their master.
There has been heavy criticism in Germany for the election campaign events of Turkish MPs from the ruling AKP party. MENA Research Center has previously reported on the German government’s response. The highlight was the appearance of the AKP parliamentarian Mustafa Açikgöz in the Yunus Emre Mosque in Neuss with a hate speech in which he spoke about the annihilation of supporters of the PKK and the Gülen movement. This was also published on Twitter.
Mustafa Açikgöz, AKP MP from Nevşehir, called for the annihilation of dissidents, PKK Kurds and supporters of the Gülen movement in the video. “Just as we won’t give them the right to live in Turkey, we won’t give them the right to live in Germany either.” The Turkish parliamentarian warns his compatriots: “You have to be vigilant.” But that’s not all. Açikgöz promises: “With Allah’s permission, we will pull them out of the holes they have been hiding in all over the world and destroy them. We’re gonna gouge out their eyes. You can rely on that.”
The Neuss Yunus Emre Mosque is attributed to the so-called Ülkücü movement, better known as the “Gray Wolves”. The organization, which has proven contacts in the rocker milieu and in organized crime, is repeatedly connected with violence, hate speech. According to German security agencies, also the mosque association is already being targeted by the security authorities. “The activities of the so-called Gray Wolves in Germany are also subject to ongoing monitoring by the state and federal intelligence agencies,” says a statement by the German Ministry of the Interior. For years, politicians, activists and political scientists have been calling for a ban on the extremist and criminal organisation. In France, it is already banned, in other European countries it is still awaited.
Last year, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution told the daily newspaper “Die Welt” that it was to be assumed that the AKP would try during the election campaign to “bundle the forces of associations in Germany with a large number of members and to coordinate their activities”. The UID has considerable mobilization potential in Germany, which already came to fruition in the constitutional referendum in April 2017 and in the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018.
Most recently, the UID organized an election campaign event in Nuremberg with long-standing Health Minister Recep Akdag. According to media reports, in addition to officials from the Turkish Consulate General, those responsible for Ditib also took part.
But the appearance in Neuss was only the finale of pro-Erdogan cheerleaders in Germany so far. In the past few weeks, dozens of AKP MPs have been out and about campaigning for votes in the communities of the Turkish mosque associations Ditib and IGMG (Milli Görüs) and at election campaign events of the UID lobby association. The Turkish governing party organizes events via the UID, where visitors receive not only speeches by AKP representatives but also a personal letter from the president. In it, Erdogan describes his alleged merits – and a vision for the next 30 years. “The elections taking place this year are crucial both for crowning the 100th anniversary of our republic and for realizing the vision of 2053. I have full confidence that you will continue to support the future of our country to the best of your ability.”
In the letter, Erdogan looks back on the AKP’s government phase, which has lasted since 2001. The party started 21 years ago with the “goal of a Greater Turkey”. “You, as our citizens living abroad, are an essential element of this blessed march. Wherever a citizen of ours lives, we as a state will stand by you.” According to Erdogan, his government is “the first Turkish government to prepare an election program for citizens abroad and to grant a separate section in the government program”. “We have built a Turkey that everyone is proud of, no matter where they live.” The AKP had “appointed thousands of teachers and religious officials for Turks abroad so that our children in the society in which they live can exist without forgetting their language, religion and culture”.
But not only Germany is the target of the campaign: the UID is increasingly organizing appearances in other European countries. AKP MP Zafer Sirakaya has published several photos of campaign appearances in mosques in French cities such as Paris and Lyon on social media.
Last Friday, a major campaign event took place in a mosque in Heusden Zolder, Belgium, attended by four AKP MPs. In Switzerland, too, several UID events have already been held in mosque centers where representatives of the AKP made appearances and also distributed the President’s letter there.
The unauthorized election campaign appearances of the AKP were, in addition to the clear statements of the German federal government, also already an issue in the German parliament. The member of the Bundestag Gökay Akbulut asked the federal government about this complex of topics, in particular what the consequences of the speech by Açikgöz in the Neuss mosque. The Ministry of the Interior “in a letter to the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM), to which six Islamic umbrella organizations belong at federal level, pointed out the need for approval for this type of event,” was the reply.
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