A recent survey shows that a considerable portion of the voter base of the ruling People’s Alliance coalition in Turkey believe Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claim that ‘mosques were set on fire’ during the Gezi protests in 2013.
Erdoğan recently said in a meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AKP):
“As you know, our streets were set on fire. National buses were set on fire. Our citizens’ shops were set on fire. No good can come from the mentality of those who defended these people when all this was happening. Our police vehicles were set on fire. Our mosques were set on fire, occupied by these idiots.”
No mosque was ever been reported as having been torched in the Gezi protests, and there is no evidence whatsoever for Erdoğan’s claim, so in June an opinion poll asked 1,500 people across Turkey whether or not they believed it.
Of those who voted for the Justice and Welfare Party (AKP) and Erdoğan in the latest elections, 25.9% stated that they believed mosques were set on fire during the Gezi protests, while 30.6% said they did not know.
Similarly, of those who voted for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also part of the ruling alliance, 24.2% stated that they believed mosques had been torched, and 19.3% said they did not know.
Erdoğan’s claim even convinced some supporters of opposition parties. The survey showed that 5.3% of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters, 5.6% of supporters of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and 5.7% of Iyi Party supporters said they believed it. Around 14% of the supporters of each of the HDP and the CHP said they did not know.
According to the survey, Erdoğan has managed to convince 16% of all voters that some mosques were set on fire by Gezi protestors.