Turkey’s centre-right opposition Good Party (İP) has sent a lawmaker for the party to its disciplinary board following his remarks over the Alevi identity of main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Diken news site reported.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader’s religious affiliation as an Alevi – a branch of Shi’a Islam practiced in Turkey – may pose a threat to his possible presidential candidacy, IP lawmaker from Ankara İbrahim Halil Oral said on a YouTube channel interview earlier this week said.
“I see a drawback when I look at the general outlook in Turkey,” the IP lawmaker said of Kılıçdaroğlu’s possible candidacy.
Oral’s remarks have raised eyebrows in the İP, with leader Meral Akşener on Thursday apologizing to the CHP leader over his statements.
Akşener, during a speech in northwestern Sakarya province, said she was saddened by the remarks that targeted the minority group and “apologised foremost to Kıllıçdaroğlu and Turkey’s Alevi community,” CNN Turk reported.
Alevis, who consider themselves Muslims, but do not adhere to several key pillars of Islam, form 15-20 percent of Turkey’s 84 million population and have for centuries faced violence and discrimination.They have long fought for official recognition as a religious community, but the Turkish government does not recognize Alevi cemevis as places of worship, depriving the Alevi community of funding and state support.
Later on Thursday, Oral released a video message on Twitter, apologizing for his remarks.
“Alevis are at the heart of our religion of Islam and the Turkish nation,” the lawmaker said. “I am saddened that my words were misunderstood and apologise to our entire nation, staring with our Alevi brothers and sisters.”
The 73-year-old CHP leader hails from Turkey’s Alevi stronghold of Dersim, but has remained relatively quiet on his origins. Kılıçdardoğlu has hinted at his presidential candidacy in the 2023 election, but has stopped short of announcing it.