Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint presidential candidate of an alliance of opposition parties, has said that he has been receiving threats since he was nominated last month but is undeterred by the threats and slander campaign against him.
“What God has destined for us will happen; I am a person who believes this. Since I accepted the offer [to become a presidential candidate] and this service for my country, threats, slander and provocations have begun against me. I offer it all up to God and continue on my way. I don't look back. I don't care about these things. There is an abundance of slander against me. Provocations have also begun,” İhsanoğlu said.
His remarks came during a TV program broadcast jointly by Kanaltürk and Bugün TV on Wednesday night.
The presidential hopeful had to forgo attending an iftar (fast-breaking) meal organized by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in İstanbul's Ayvansaray neighborhood on Wednesday night after a gunshot was heard during a fight between two groups of people after İhsanoğlu arrived in the area.
Last month, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the MHP nominated İhsanoğlu, the former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint candidate for August's presidential election. Several other opposition parties also voiced their support for İhsanoğlu. His main rival is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
During the program, İhsanoğlu discussed a wide range of issues, such as developments in the Middle East and the Dec. 17 graft probe. The presidential candidate responded to criticism from Erdoğan claiming that he did not side with the Palestinian people in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Of nine [OIC] secretary-generals, I am the one who has done the most for the Palestinian cause. Since the day I began my post [at the OIC], I showed a close interest in the Palestinian cause. And my services were appreciated by the Palestinian people, government and political parties. I was the first [secretary-general] to declare a ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah in December 2006. I declared it in Gaza,” he said.
İhsanoğlu said he has been many times to the Gaza Strip -- which is under an Israeli blockade -- not with empty promises but with services and humanitarian aid, adding that he has always been on the side of the Palestinian people.
With regard to the government's claim that he is the presidential candidate of the so-called “parallel structure,” a derogatory reference by Erdoğan and his supporters to the Hizmet movement inspired by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, İhsanoğlu said that it is impossible for him to take such claims seriously.
“The people making these claims need to come up with evidence,” he said.
Speaking about the corruption probe which came to public attention on Dec. 17 and in which some government members have been implicated, İhsanoğlu said the issue should not be politicized and should be left to the courts.
Published on Cihan, 10 July 2014, Thursday