Erdogan lashes out at foreign media ahead of Turkey polls



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday stepped up his attacks on foreign media a day ahead of legislative elections, telling the Guardian to “know your limits” and lamenting that “Jewish capital” was behind the New York Times.

Erdogan has during the campaign leading up to Sunday’s polls repeatedly criticised foreign media, amid growing concerns over an erosion of freedom of expression in Turkey under his rule.

In one of its final pre-election rallies in the eastern province of Ardahan, Erdogan took offence at an article in the Guardian critical of his rule, including an editorial titled “Growing autocracy threatens a crucial country”.

“Do you know what a British newspaper says about this election?” Erdogan told the crowd. “It says the not fully-westernised, poor Muslims are not being allowed to manage their own country!”

“Who are you? You are impertinent!” he told the paper. “Know your limits. Since when were you given such authority?”

Erdogan also launched a new attack on the New York Times, which has written there are “dark clouds” over Turkey under his rule.

He said the newspaper had been campaigning against Turkey’s leaders going back to Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, who ruled the Ottoman Empire during the final phase of its decline.

“Now, they are spitting out the same hatred on me… It’s clear who their patrons are. There is Jewish capital behind it, unfortunately.”

The New York Times had earlier this week hit back at Erdogan’s attacks with a tweet satirising his vast new presidential palace in Ankara.

“Which leader has a 1,150-room palace more than 30x the size of the White House?” the paper had tweeted.

Erdogan has also been bitterly critical of opposition Turkish media in the campaign, saying the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar would “pay a heavy price” over a front page story which it said proved Turkey had sent arms to rebels in Syria.

The AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002, has been under greater pressure than in previous polls, with the economy losing some of its former sparkle and controversy growing over what critics say are Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies.

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