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Turkish opposition leader causes controversy with comments in a television interview

There was anger in Turkey over opposition leader Ugur Özel, who described Hamas as a terrorist organization in a television interview on Saturday – a position he had also expressed before.

Ozel explained: “Hamas is raining bombs on innocent people in the middle of the night, with balloons, drones and I don’t know what else.”

He went on to say that these statements point accusatory fingers at him, but he also stated: “You have to see that this problem started there (with Hamas). What Hamas did was an act of terror. Hamas fired bombs at sleeping Jews in the middle of the night.”

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accompanied by Ozgur Ozel, attends a swearing-in ceremony at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, June 2, 2023. (Source: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)

Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), elected Ozgur Ozel as its new leader in November 2023, replacing Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the Related Press reported shortly after the elections this year.

According to the report, Özel secured 812 of the 1,366 delegate votes, marking a significant change in leadership following the party’s electoral defeat.

Vision for the future of Türkiye

After his election, Ozel vowed to work for a better political future and “make people smile.” AP quoted the Turkish opposition leader.

Following Turkey’s economic challenges and the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquakes, discontent grew within the CHP as the party missed the chance to defeat Erdogan in elections in May of that year. Pre-election expectations had pointed to strong support for former leader Kilicdaroglu, who was seen as the opposition’s best chance to topple Erdogan since 2003.

Maariv contributed to this article.

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