President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who received the backing of politicians from abroad besides other prominent names in the first round of presidential elections, is now endorsed by the European Muslim Forum (EMF).
The Forum declared its support for Türkiye’s incumbent president at a press conference in Istanbul on Thursday.
At the venue, which had a clear view of the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, officials of the forum called on the Turkish electorate to vote for Erdoğan, who they say is not only the President of Türkiye but also "the leader of the Ummah,” using the Islamic term referring to the global Muslim community.
"The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque is a symbol of the existence of Muslims in Europe,” the forum’s president, Abdul-Vahed Niyazov, said at the press conference. "The return of the Hagia Sophia mosque to Muslims is a symbol of future victories and accomplishments of the Turkish nation,” the EMF said previously in an official statement in praise of the Erdoğan government’s move to revert Hagia Sophia, which originally served as a church and then as a museum, to a mosque.
Niyazov said that 170 million Muslims live in the European continent. "That’s why the fate of Türkiye matters to us. That’s why we are now in front of the Hagia Sophia."
He also said the EMF advises the Turkish electorate to vote for Erdoğan. "This way, you will support both the Ummah and our leader," Niyazov maintained.
Meanwhile, Lauren Booth, a British Muslim journalist, criticized the West for "looking down on Türkiye."
"Why did someone like myself, a journalist who works in the mainstream (media), move here?” she rhetorically asked, explaining her decision to settle in Türkiye. "It is interesting that immigration is such a big question in this election," Booth, who is former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, said in criticism of anti-refugee stances in politics.
"On the one hand, Türkiye is hosting one of the poorest, some of the most vulnerable people in the world, the Syrian refugees,” she added.
"On the other hand, it is also the envy of the Muslim world and beyond,” she said, adding: "As we look at this important election and what the West is trying to say about President Erdoğan, we must take their stand into consideration in reality,” Booth added. She also criticized the Western way of life, saying it is "in freefall." "The Western lifestyle that I come from is in freefall,” she said, adding that it is "a finished ideology.”
Booth also praised Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party). "Türkiye and the leadership of the AK Party are both forward-looking and have traditional values,” she said. "Nations that are failing do not have people wanting to come and live in them,” she added. "They have people wanting to leave."
The British journalist also claimed that the West is "making young Turkish people want to leave when they don’t know how good Türkiye is.”
Booth also praised Turkish people for "having such an amazing society."
"(And) as your sister in Islam, I invite the Muslims of Türkiye to look around with your eyes, and the eyes of your heart. Are your streets clean? Do you have new bridges? Do you have a good infrastructure? Are you growing or retracting? Think about this. May Allah reward President Erdoğan for his forward thinking and determination."
In the statement released prior to the event, the EMF also called on "their fellow Muslims from the Republic of Türkiye to vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is rightfully considered the leader of the modern global Ummah."
"This Sunday, May 28, the Turkish people will make their final choice: Who will be the leader of the nation and head-of-state in the coming years,” the statement also said, referring to the second round of the presidential elections.
In the first round, which was held on May 14, no candidate managed to garner enough votes to surpass the 50% threshold.
"The Muslims of Europe are convinced of the wisdom of the Turkish people and that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. The Turkish nation will continue its development as the vanguard of the global Ummah under the leadership of its current leader,” the EMF noted in the statement.