A video posted by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s opposition parties, has reached 104 million views, 29.2 million of which have been since April 19.
“Actually the Kılıçdaroğlu video now ranks the most viewed video on Twitter globally since 2022 surpassing the previously top ranked #Messi video which clocked 25 million views. We are witnessing a phenomenon. Speaks volumes,” said former diplomat Sinan Ülgen on Twitter on Saturday.
Many saw Kılıçdaroğlu’s video as a critical turn in Turkish politics, as the politician, who leads the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), spoke openly for the first time about his Alevi faith.
“I am an Alevi, a sincere Muslim who grew up with faith in God, Prophet Muhammed and Ali,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Identity makes us who we are. We must of course uphold them with pride. We cannot choose our identities, we are born with them … but there are more important things we can choose in life,” he added.
“We can choose to be good people, to be honest and ethical, to have a conscience, to be virtuous and just,” he continued. “We can choose to live a better life, in a free and prosperous country. Our choices can transform society rapidly.”
Alevis in Turkey are estimated to constitute 20 percent of the population, but many feel the need to hide their identity in the Sunni majority country.
Before Kılıçdaroğlu was nominated as presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance, composed of six opposition parties, some commentators objected to his candidacy on the grounds that Sunnis would never vote for a person of Alevi faith.
After his “Alevi” video went viral, many argued that Kılıçdaroğlu had taken an important step in cooling down tensions in the country increased by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s polarising rhetoric.
Speaking at a campaign event in the earthquake hit southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş, Erdoğan on Saturday accused Kılıçdaroğlu of exploiting his sectarian identity.
“In order to hide their dark deals, they are launching a debate on ethnical identity, on sectarianism out of nowhere. Nobody never in this country asks other people’s origins, their sects,” said Erdoğan.
The Turkish president has targeted Kılıçdaroğlu continuously in recent weeks, portraying him as someone who cooperates with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Erdoğan’s attacks against the 74-year old politician have escalated since the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) declared an implicit support for Kılıçdaroğlu in declaring that it will not nominate its own presidential candidate.
Veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk joined the discussions on Kılıçdaroğlu’s viral video on Sunday in an interview published by T24.
“I congratulate him,” said Türk, adding that he watched the politician’s Alevi video as well as a previous video he shared on the Kurds.
“I saw that he has reached a point where he touches the realities in Turkey. I wish all those things had happened before, we had opened discussions on those issues before,” Türk said.
“I hope he will continue this attitude he displays today when they take over the government. Because the people of Turkey need a system, need a government that brings people together, unifies them, respects their values,” Türk added.