“Conquest is Mecca, conquest is Saladin, it’s to hoist the Islamic flag over Jerusalem again; conquest is the heritage of Mehmed II and conquest means forcing Turkey back on its feet,” Erdogan said in a campaign speech on Saturday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Erdogan’s remarks came at a political rally celebrating 562 years since the Muslim Turks captured Constantinople from the Christian Byzantine Empire on May 29, 1453. Erdogan’s comments referenced the Muslim military hero Saladin, who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders during the 12th century.
Turkey is holding parliamentary elections on June 7. Erdogan hopes that his Islamist AKP Party will win at least two-thirds of the 550 seats in the Turkish parliament, which would enable him to amend the constitution to give more power to the office of the president. But recent opinion polls indicate that Erdogan’s party will fall well short of the two-thirds threshold and may even fail to win a simple majority for the first time in 12 years.