Joint presidential candidate İhsanoğlu reassures atheists
İhsanoğlu met with members of the Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary), a collaborative hypertext “dictionary” and one of the country’s most popular online forums, in Istanbul on July 17.Presidential candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has sought to reassure atheists in Turkey that forcing religious matters on people is against Islamic principles, during a meeting with members of a popular Turkish website.
İhsanoğlu, who is backed by seven opposition parties including the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), met with members of the Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary), a collaborative hypertext “dictionary” and one of the country’s most popular online forums, in Istanbul on July 17.
The joint presidential candidate shared a photo of the meeting on his Twitter account, while some participants shared parts from the question and answer session. According to the messages that were shared on social media, İhsanoğlu stressed in the meeting that he is “the supra-party candidate.”
According to participants at the event, questions focused on İhsanoğlu’s presidential agenda and his position on women’s rights, labor rights and religious freedoms.
“I’m an atheist, will you still love me when you become president?” one participant asked İhsanoğlu. “What would I do if you were my daughter?” İhsanoğlu reportedly joked, adding: “There is no compulsion in religion. Nobody can meddle with your religion. If you want, you believe and if you don’t, you don’t. What’s important is whether you force others [to believe] or not …"
The Quranic verse Surat al-Baqarah famously notes that there is no compulsion in religion.
İhsanoğlu’s “dictionary entry” on Ekşi Sözlük includes factual information mixed with subjective comments made by anonymous users. Some of the entries critically remind people that İhsanoğlu had condemned the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) arrest warrant on Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, while others praised his statements criticizing religious radicalism and plans for promoting democracy in the Islamic world. There are also articles suggesting the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “is afraid of İhsanoğlu,” while others claim that İhsanoğlu “has no chance against Erdoğan.”
The first round of the upcoming presidential elections is scheduled for Aug. 10. The second round, if needed, will be held on Aug. 24.