The party’s central pre-election rally ahead of the municipal elections in Turkey was held by the ruling party’s candidate for the Istanbul municipality, Murat Kurum. The keynote speaker at the meeting was Recep Tayyip Erdoganfor whom the recovery of the municipality of Istanbul from the opposition is the main goal of next Sunday’s municipal elections.

The Turkish president referred, among other things, to the Fall of Constantinople, while regarding the reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque, he said that an 80-year dream had come true.

At the beginning of his speech, he sang the well-known song “I love him” that he used to sing during his campaign rallies last year and then recited in Arabic the passage from the Koran that refers to the Fall: “Our Prophet foresaw the conquest her, saying that the Constantinople it will definitely be conquered. What a wonderful army this army will be, what a wonderful commander this conqueror will be.’

The Turkish president described Istanbul as the “Red Apple”, which its founder Ottoman Empire, Osman, bequeathed to his children saying “take Istanbul, make it a rose garden”. “This is Constantinople, which made Muhammad the Conqueror one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen as a conqueror at the age of 21,” he also said, adding: “This is Constantinople, which is a treasure that has been transformed into work of art as if it had been embroidered from Rome to Byzantium, from the Ottoman Empire to the period of the Republic”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued by referring to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque: “We have fulfilled the 80-year dream of our nation and reopened Hagia Sophia for worship, glory be to Allah. Today, according to the will of Sultan Muhammad, the call for prayer is heard five times a day from the minarets of the Hagia Sophia mosque and hadith, takbir, salawat and recitations of the Koran adorn its domes.

A central slogan of Erdoğan’s election campaign in these municipal elections is “Istanbul again”, a slogan that was also dominant in today’s rally at Istanbul’s old airport. Recapturing Istanbul, as mayor of which he began his meteoric rise in politics, has become a key objective for Erdogan in order to complete his success in last year’s presidential election.

He launched an attack against the current mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, accusing him of incompetence and claiming that his five years in office did not achieve any results and were a waste of time. As he said, Istanbul’s problem is not a lack of resources and capabilities, but a lack of vision and capacity.

He particularly highlighted his own work when he was mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998, but also subsequently as prime minister and president of the country.

He also referred to the video recently released on social media showing officials of Imamoglu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) counting wads of cash. Tayyip Erdoğan said the CHP could not explain the origin of the money. “They pollute politics. They pollute the votes of those who trusted their honor. They are polluting Istanbul,” he said.

The 53-year-old current mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, is today considered the most powerful political opponent that the Kemalist opposition camp has raised in the last 20 years. It is a common assessment that Istanbul, with more than 16 million inhabitants, with a population greater than 131 countries in the world, is the “key” to power in the country.