Ekrem Imamoglu applies in Turkey as President Erdoğan’s worst adversary. Now the judiciary is investigating Istanbul’s mayor because he had his hands behind his back while visiting a mausoleum.
For alleged disrespect, the Turkish authorities have started investigations against the mayor of Istanbul, who is considered one of the greatest rivals of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish Ministry of the Interior announced on Tuesday that Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was under investigation because he had behaved disrespectfully during a visit to the mausoleum of Sultan Mehmet II last year.
According to the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, the opposition politician is accused of standing with his hands behind his back in front of the tomb of Mehmet II – an attitude that is seen as an insult to the memory of the Sultan who conquered Istanbul in 1453. The spokesman for the Istanbul city administration, Murat Ongün, described the procedure as “nonsensical”.
Erdoğan’s potential challenger
The investigation also deals with Imamoglu’s visits to mayors of the pro-Kurdish party (HDP). The Ministry of the Interior said he had “praised criminals”. The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being the political arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara classifies as a “terrorist” organization.
As a member of the largest opposition party, the social democratic CHP, Imamoglu is one of the most prominent opponents of President Erdoğan. He is often seen by observers as a potential challenger in the 2023 presidential election.
In the 2019 local elections, Imamoglu inflicted a humiliating defeat on Erdoğan by ending 25 years of Islamic-conservative rule at the helm of Turkey’s largest city.