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Local elections are coming up March 31.
Friday’s attack was streamed on Facebook Live; tech companies like YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter all struggled to pull the video from their platforms when it appeared.
Erdogan reportedly used snippets of the video, as well as parts of a white supremacist manifesto apparently written by the alleged shooter, at two rallies, in Istanbul and the western city of Tekirdag. The BBC reports that Erdogan used the footage at another rally, in the southern city of Gaziantep, as well.
The shooter “targeted Turkey and me,” Erdogan said. The manifesto contains several references to “Turks,” as well as threats to destroy the mosques of Istanbul, referring to the city as Constantinople, its name under Christian rule.
“What does it say? That we shouldn’t go west of the Bosporus, meaning Europe. Otherwise, he would come to Istanbul, kill us all, drive us out of our land,” Erdogan reportedly said at the Gaziantep rally.
As the March 31 elections approach, Erdogan is seen as attempting to appeal to his conservative Muslim base in the midst of an economic downturn.
Erdogan criticized his rival, CHP party head Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and showed a clip of him speaking about “terrorism rooted in the Islamic world.”
The CHP shot back at Erdogan, accusing him of using the tragic attack for political gain.
“Is it worth showing this bloody massacre in order to gain a few more votes?” asked Faik Oztrak, a CHP spokesperson reportedly told Anadolu news agency.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters told the BBC, “Anything of that nature that misrepresents this country—given that [the suspect] was a non-New Zealand citizen—imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad and it’s totally unfair.”
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.