On June 24, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the man who always speaks and stands up for the rights of the marginalized, oppressed and wronged around the world, recently won the toughest and most challenging presidential election in the history of the Republic of Turkey. More than 80 percent of the citizens voted, the largest turnout for presidential elections ever in the country's history. Also, it is worth mentioning that Turkey transformed from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system of government.On June 24, poor, oppressed Muslims worldwide closely followed the developments of Turkey's presidential elections. From Somalis to the people of Palestine, the Rohingya Muslim minorities in Myanmar to the devastated Syrian people and many other oppressed Muslims worldwide, including targeted Muslim minorities in Europe, people focused their prayers on the beloved of all oppressed societies, Erdoğan.
Somalis' views of Erdoğan
After a civil war severely damaged the infrastructure and interrupted the daily lives of Somalis, educational, medical and most other basic services were almost nonexistent. Many were senselessly killed in the war. Poverty and hunger become normal among the people of Somalia. Deadly diseases, droughts and famine hit and spread across the country. Turkey responded to the needs of the Somalis at the right time by providing the required humanitarian assistance.Erdoğan's visit to Mogadishu in 2011 was the first by a non-African head of government in decades, and the establishment of the largest Turkish embassy in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as well as the commencement of regular Turkish Airlines flights to Mogadishu, cemented Turkey's status as a significant player in the reconstruction of the country. Furthermore, Turkey reconstructed and equipped Mogadishu's largest hospital, officially opened by Erdoğan on a following visit in January 2015.Erdoğan and his government's support allowed Somalia to re-enter the international political arena and won over critical members of the international community that had ignored and labelled the war-torn country a failed state. There is no doubt that Erdoğan and his people helped Somalis when the rest of the world wavered. That is the reason why Somalis everywhere closely followed the elections and prayed for Erdoğan's re-election.
Immediately after the declaration of Erdoğan's victory, Somali President Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo congratulated his Turkish counterpart in a statement on Twitter: "Congratulations to President @RT_Erdogan on his successful presidential election. The government & people of Somalia congratulate the people of Turkey on their historic presidential and parliamentary elections. Turkey a valuable partner of Somalia."It is not only Somalis those who love and admire Erdoğan; all other troubled Muslims around the world do as well.
Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, almost 4 million, after they were displaced by the ruthlessness and cruelty of the Bashar Assad regime. That is what is making Syrians love and admire Erdoğan. In fact, Syrians flooded social media congratulating and celebrating Erdoğan's win on June 24.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also congratulated Erdoğan in a phone call to celebrate "the success of the Turkish democratic process and his victory in the presidential elections," according to official Palestinian News Agency (WAFA). Abbas said: "I wish Turkey more success, progress and stability." Erdogan, according to the agency, stressed Turkey's "continued support" for the Palestinian people and "their right to freedom and stability."
Erdoğan seems to be the only concrete defender of the rights of Palestinians. He and his people are committed to helping Palestinians politically and through humanitarian assistance, as well. The historic Marmara incident, when a civilian Turkish boat carrying food and medicine to the restricted Gaza was fired on by Israeli soldiers surrounding Gaza by air, sea and land, not allowing aid to be delivered inside Gaza, is a testament to Turkey's commit. Nine Turkish aid personnel were killed in that incident. At that time, Turkey was the only country that had risked lives to reach the restricted, needy people in Gaza.
Myanmar is another example of Turkey playing an important role to helping those who are marginalized, oppressed and suffering around the world. Turkey was the only country that reacted directly to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minorities in Myanmar and sent humanitarian assistance. First lady Emine Erdoğan personally visited the displaced Rohingya Muslim minorities in Bangladesh to deliver aid.Erdoğan and his government also speak and stand up for the rights of targeted Muslim minorities in the heart of Europe. At a program hosted by Istanbul's Esenler municipality to mark Laylat al-Qadr (the night of power), which marks the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, he said, "Because, you should know, a mosque being closed in Austria, Muslims and men of religion being kicked out of Austria would start another crusader-crescent war, and you would be responsible for it," emphasizing that there is no difference in terms of mindset between displaced Rohingya Muslims and shutting down mosques in the middle of Europe.
The president's endeavors and hard work regarding defending, speaking and standing up for the rights of those marginalized, oppressed and persecuted societies around the world have made him a loved leader. That was the reason people around the world were praying for him while he was on the campaign trail and later congratulating and celebrating with the country when he declared his victory on June 24.
* Graduate student at Gazi University's Department of Economic Growth and Development