Istanbul Mayor goes on Umrah pilgrimage amid race for presidential candidacy
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu on Friday fitted in with his parents a quick Umrah - an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj which has specific dates - amidst a tight race for candidacy ahead of the presidential elections and relentless efforts to defend himself against the accusations by the Interior Ministry of current and past wrongdoings.
Turks who saw Imamoglu walking around the Ka’aba posted images on social media which showed an airy peace on his face away from the turbulence back home.
A strong potential to be designated as the joint opposition candidate of Turkey’s opposition bloc made up of six parties - a.k.a Table of Six - Imamoglu recently was sentenced to over two years of jail sentence which raised his profile among other potentials to run against President Tayyip Erdogan who has been ruling the country for over 20 years.
A member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, Imamoglu has succeeded in appealing to more conservative voters beyond the party's secularist grassroots.
But his latest visit to Umrah was labeled as political by the government media who accused him of showing off.
“[Imamoglu] believes that ends justify means, and he never hesitates to go to the farthest points in pragmatism,” Milliyet’s columnist Zafer Sahin said.
After being sentenced to over two years of jail sentence over his remarks concerning the election committee, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was also accused last week of bid rigging during his term as mayor of Beylikduzu district.
The first hearing of the case will be held on June 15, Turkey’s Haberturk TV reported, saying that the investigation started with a review by the Ministry of Interior regarding Imamoğlu's term as the Mayor of Beylikduzu.