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Live Rostrum Who's Who 2022

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Politician

Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as Turkey’s Prime Minister for 11 years, winning three successive elections with a majority (2002, 2007, and 2011), until becoming the country’s first democratically elected president in August 2014 and gaining re-election in 2018. Turkey has seen exceptional economic development, constitutional change, and re-emergence as a significant global force during its presidency. All of this, along with his unabashed voice on the international stage and support for Muslim causes, has helped him win over Muslims all around the world.

Erdogan won 52.5 per cent of the vote (electoral turnout was 86 per cent) in the 2018 presidential election, avoiding a second-round runoff. This was a continuation of his extraordinary popularity and electoral success over the preceding two decades. During his presidency, he has advocated for increased powers for the president, a move that has been condemned by many as a symptom of his desire for excessive authority. He has lost the backing of important members of his party and has been chastised for his media crackdown.

When President Erdogan reclaimed the AKP’s leadership in 2017, he predicted that the party’s incredible winning run will continue in the 2019 municipal elections. For the first time in 25 years, the AKP lost not just Istanbul, but also five of Turkey’s six major cities. Re-election in Istanbul was ordered by the Turkish government, but the AKP did even worse in the re-run polls in June. The status of the economy, mental exhaustion from the AKP’s reign, and a well-organized and cohesive opposition all contributed to the defeat. There may be more setbacks to come, with accusations of corruption inside the AKP circulating widely on social media and bad Presidential nominations of major political and academic positions.

The failed coup of 15 July 2017, which led to about 200 deaths, has led to huge The failed coup attempt on July 15, 2017, which resulted in around 200 deaths, has had far-reaching consequences, with Erdogan attempting to apprehend all those involved. He has directly blamed Fethullah Gulen for the coup and has launched an all-out onslaught on Gulen’s institutions and sympathisers. Around 160,000 civil officials have been fired from various state organisations, with over half coming from the education sector. Furthermore, 50,000 individuals remain detained, with the figure steadily increasing as officials continue to conduct raids regularly.

Turkey’s relations with the United States have deteriorated significantly since it chose the Russian S-400 defence system over the Patriot surface-to-air missile system. The US retaliated by halting Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet development and delaying other military purchases.

After Sultan Mehmed II seized Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia, Constantinople’s patriarchal church, was turned into the Fatih Mosque. In 1935, Atatürk transformed Hagia Sophia into a museum as part of his endeavour to erase Turkey’s Islamic character. In July 2020, Erdogan overturned Atatürk’s judgement and designated Hagia Sophia as a mosque, a move that most Muslims applauded.

The Turkish film industry’s soft power has been instrumental in increasing Turkey’s influence throughout the Muslim world. Historical dramas like Sulayman the Magnificent and Sultan Abdul-Hamid II were extremely popular in the Arab world, but the drama about Ertugrul, (Dirilis: Ertugrul), the fabled father of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, has increased and spread this effect. Other Muslim leaders have not only encouraged their followers to watch it but have also used it as a model for developing their native dramas.

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