Turkey Election Sparks Fears of Islamic Caliphate

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ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkey is in the final days of an election campaign that will affect one of America's biggest Middle East allies for years to come.

The elections center around one party and one man -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Istanbul, it's hard to escape posters of Erdogan, the head of the ruling Islamist party, the AKP. The polls point to a sizable victory for the AKP, and that would be the third straight election win for a party that worked hard to make one of the most secular Muslim nations on earth even more Islamic.

"I don't think we're going to go to sharia law, but many people fear we are going more and more to our Middle Eastern roots," Cansin Ilgaz told CBN News.

Political adversaries like Gursel Tekin, the No. 2 man in Turkey's main opposition party, say the world is now finally seeing the real Erdogan.

"The dear prime minister in America and Europe was very popular and they supported him in 2004 and 2007 and his mask looked very liberal," Tekin, vice president of Republican People's Party, told CBN News while he was campaigning in Instanbul.

"But now they see that he's not liberal," Tekin said. "He's restricted freedom and the journalists can't express themselves because of the prime minister. Therefore, the mind of Ergogan is fascist and it's a dictatorial regime."

Some accuse the AKP of using democracy to gain power and then limit freedoms. CBN News asked Erdogan's second in command, Egemen Bagis, about those charges.

"Turkey has never been as democratic as she is today. Some people might not enjoy the fact that Turkey's becoming a stronger country," Bagis said.

"We can understand their feelings, but Turkey's becoming more and more democratic every day," he said.

But if Erdogan's party wins a majority of seats in this election, some fear he'll re-write Turkey's constitution, set up a presidential system and consolidate his power.

The AKP party is closely linked to the worldwide Gülen Islamic movement, and some even feel he hopes to re-establish an Islamic caliphate with Turkey as its head.

Whatever the outcome of Sunday's elections, Turkey will be a different country come Monday. What kind of country is still to be decided.

That's why many Christians in the Middle East are praying for Turkey and the future of the region.

"As Christians we have a very special calling. No matter what the government is, whether it's evil or whether it's good, we need to pray for them," Turkish pastor Levent Kinrin told CBN News.

"We need to bless them," he added. "And we need to pray they would also recognize, realize the gospel of Jesus Christ, come to know it, come to accept it because God wants the salvation of all men."

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Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.