By Leyla AmurOn Wednesday President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan spoke to journalists on a plane coming back from New Delhi to clarify his position on the recent Islamist debate within the AKP.
President Erdoğan responded to the claim that Islamists were being “kicked out of AKP,” by stating, “People will tell you that Islamists are the ones getting discarded and not the ones getting appointments. It’s wrong to make a distinction based on whether or not someone is an Islamist in a political party. We are not looking for disciples. A political party looks for people who follow the party’s principles, loves their country and nation, who are principled and honest.”
Erdogan’s response comes after journalist Cem Küçük made the statement late April that AKP must part ways from radical Islamists, and said that Erdogan “does this well,” citing the purging of those alleged to be part of the Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization.
Kücük drew ire from the Turkish journalist community, particularly among the ranks of the AKP, with İsmail Kılıçarslan, a writer for pro-AKP Yeni Şafak, speculating, “One might want to eliminate the Islamists from AKP. But I don’t think anyone can possibly do it.” Several calls were made on social media for Küçük to apologize for his controversial remarks.
However, for journalist Hakan Albayrak, Kücük’s statements point to a larger issue of a war waged within pro-AKP camps between the so-called Pelicanists – in which Küçük is alleged to play a role – and Islamists. The pelicanists camp came from the Pelican File – a nod to the 1993 thriller movie “Pelican Brief” – which is a political blog with one post that revealed the rift between Erdoğan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Shortly after that, Davutoğlu resigned from his post.