Turkish PM Erdoğan labels opponents as 'racists'

Turkish PM Erdoğan labels opponents as 'racists'

Turkish PM Erdoğan labels opponents as racists

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan surveys his supporters during a rally in Diyarbakır.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has labeled his presidential opponents as "racists," bringing a theme that he has been harping on in Turkey's foreign policy to domestic politics two weeks before the elections.

"We're not racist, not Kurdist and not Turkist," Erdoğan said in a campaign rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır July 26.

"The CHP means racism," Turkish PM said, while slamming Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint presidential candidate nominated by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

"The MHP, which sees nationalism as racism, is also on the stage again," Erdoğan added. "I believe that this racist candidate will not get any votes from Diyarbakır."

Racism has recently become a dominant theme in the Turkish government's foreign policy, with  Erdoğan comparing Israel to Adolf Hitler following the country's military operation in Gaza. Erdoğan had also claimed in a speech on June 17 that “calling the Middle East a quagmire is racism.”

Erdoğan's supporters in İstasyon Square were regularly sprayed with cool water during the July 26 speech due to hot weather.

Besides İhsanoğlu, the Turkish PM also targeted Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, his other rival for the presidency, by claiming that both candidates "pick words for the venue that they speak."

"The HDP is nourished by tensions," Erdoğan said, claiming that the party, which is focused on the Kurdish problem, "is seeking an alliance with CHP" for the presidential elections scheduled for Aug. 10.

"Each vote that you will cast for me will help the solution process," Erdoğan told the crowd in the Kurdish-majority city, referring to his government's bid to solve the decades-old problem.

"Diyarbakır will give a lesson to the HDP that betrayed it. But each vote that will be used for the CHP, MHP and other nationalists and separatists... and each vote to the HDP... will go to the Old Turkey," Erdoğan said, defining himself as the candidate of the "New Turkey."