Thousands of Turks demonstrate in Istanbul after Erdogan’s sentencing
In Istanbul, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against the sentencing of Mayor Imamoglu. He is considered President Erdogan’s biggest political rival. Yesterday he was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison for insulting the electoral commission.
Protesters in Istanbul stood at City Hall and waved Turkish flags. “One day the AKP will be held responsible,” some chanted. The AKP is Erdogan’s ruling party.
Imamoglu is a member of the secular CHP party, the largest opposition party in Turkey. To everyone’s surprise, he won the Istanbul municipal elections in 2019. Because the city is considered the cultural and economic center of Turkey, it was a painful defeat for Erdogan.
After his victory, the result was first declared invalid. Imamoglu then replied: “Those who canceled the elections are idiots”. He said it was in response to Interior Minister Soylu, who called him an idiot. When the vote was retaken, Imamoglu won by a larger margin.
Reuters news agency spoke to a man who had traveled 200 kilometers to attend the protest: “The government is scared, that’s why this statement is there.” Another protester said he came to “protect the rights and the voice of millions of Istanbul residents”. “We are here because we want to live in a country where the rule of law prevails.”
Imamoglu also showed up at the protest. He said he felt the support of many Turks. “Istanbul’s 16 million people, our nation and our great Turkish alliance stand by my side. We will change the order of power in next year’s elections.”
Imamoglu still mayor for now
Imamoglu was one of the main candidates to challenge Erdogan in next year’s presidential election. If his sentence is upheld, he will no longer be allowed to participate in politics, at least not while he is in prison.
Imamoglu appealed his conviction. This should take at least a year. Until then, he can remain mayor of Istanbul.
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