Turkish pro-gov’t media sees İmamoğlu the way secularists viewed Erdoğan – columnist

The reports on Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in Turkey’s pro-government media outlets are reminiscent of reports published in the country’s secular newspapers back in 1994, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected as Istanbul’s mayor, said Yıldıray Oğur, a columnist of the conservative Karar newspaper, on Saturday.

The columnist said the visit had made him recall how Turkey’s mainstream media behaved with Erdoğan in 1994, showeing their dissatisfaction with election results by referring to the newly-elected mayor by his first name in their reports.

“They did not want to give him (Erdoğan) even the slightest chance when he was mayor. His every step was criticised. His failures were celebrated,” Oğur said.

İmamoğlu became the first opposition politician to win Istanbul’s mayoral seat in Istanbul after 25 years of Islamist rule. He declared victory in March 31 polls in Istanbul and emerged as the winner for a second time on June 23 rerun, held after the country’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) cancelled the first vote due to Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) appeal over electoral irregularities.

Oğur said the same attitude was this time embraced by the pro-government media outlets who had been referring to the new mayor as “Ekrem”.

“The newspapers, televisions which had not criticised the AKP-controlled municipality’s activities for 17 years, have turned their spot lights toward him (İmamoğlu),” Oğur said. The columnist said state-run television TRT has been making live broadcast from congested transport stations in the mornings, while the pro-government media has been treating the municipality’s water brand as it has been selling cyanide.

“He is being treated as if he does not exist, he is hardly reached out,” Oğur said citing the government’s attitude excluding İmamoğlu following an earthquake that hit Turkey’s financial powerhouse last week.

Oğur said many people had gathered in front of their office building to take photos with the new mayor and to applaud him while İmamoğlu had been leaving.

“With the help of the government, whether you like it or not, from now on we are facing a figure who will make a name for himself in politics for years, who now has his own story and aura,” Oğur said.

Recalling that the media’s past attitude toward Erdoğan played an important role in his rise to power, Oğur wrote, “The results of secularists’ ‘Tayyip’ obsession in the 1990s is obvious, there is no reason why the ‘Ekrem’ obsession will not yield similar results.”