Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu speaks to a shoeshiner during his visit to Bursa's historic Koza Han.
Presidential candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has strongly condemned The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq and has been keeping 49 Turks hostage in Mosul for more than a month.
“ISIL is a ruthless terrorist movement that gives its biggest harm to Islam,” İhsanoğlu told reporters July 12 during his visit to the northwestern province of Bursa, adding that the group’s claims of founding a state in the name of Allah should be categorically denied.
“If you know the military, religious, political, psychological, international parameters of the situation, you can deal with it,” said İhsanoğlu, who is supported by a group of six opposition parties led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (AKP).
“If you decide to support [ISIL] until a certain point and then try to part ways, you will have great trouble. Foreign policy should be performed in a discreet, calm way,” the presidential candidate said in a veiled criticism of the government’s foreign policy.
When asked about the demands to turn Istanbul’s monumental Hagia Sophia into a mosque again, İhsanoğlu avoided giving a direct answer.
“This is a very delicate, historical issue,” he said. “I am aware of the public demands. I’m one of the people who had the chance to pray there when it was opened to service as a mosque in 1980. But I do not know what decision the government will take.”
İhsanoğlu also slammed Israel
for its offensive on Gaza, noting that he contributed to the conciliation process between rival Palestine groups during his term as the head of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).