Tarek Cherkaoui, the manager of the Turkish state-run news channel TRT World’s research center, wrote an article in April calling upon Turks to donate to the campaign fund of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The article was widely reprinted in the Turkish media.
The article, written for the English-language website of the Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Şafak and published on April 1, 2019, was titled “Media Flak Directed At Ilhan Omar No Surprise At All.” At least seven other Turkish media outlets ran the article, in both English and in Turkish. It should be noted that U.S. federal law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to political candidates.
In the article, Cherkaoui wrote that “donating money to Omar’s campaign fund would be an adequate way of denying powerful organizations the power to censor alternative voices.”
It is difficult to calculate the reach this call has had among Turkish readers, but Yeni Şafak’s Turkish-language website is one of Turkey’s most popular news websites, and as of Sept. 2018 its Turkish print edition had a weekly circulation of 111,622. Given Omar’s popularity in Turkey and the fact that the article was published in Turkish as well as in English, it is likely that some Turks have sought to donate to her campaign fund.
Omar’s popularity in Turkey is nothing new.
According to diplomatic sources, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu phoned Omar in Nov. 2016 to congratulate her on her election victory and did so again on her win in November 2018.
In Sept. 2017, Omar met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. President Erdoğan’s party, the AKP, posted about the meeting on its official Twitter account. On July 1, 2017, Omar tweeted that she had met, the previous day, with Turkish Consul General in Chicago Umut Acar for lunch and a tour. The tweet linked to a Facebook page that has since been removed.
A year later, on Sept. 24, 2018, Acar tweeted a photo of himself, Omar and another woman. He wrote: “We hosted Omar at the residence.” He went on to describe Omar’s life.
On Feb. 4, 2017, Omar spoke on a panel at the “Who Is A Defender? International Human Rights Defenders Conference,” held in the Şişli district of Istanbul, Turkey. The conference was organized by the Şişli municipality.
Omar has become a favorite of both the Turkish- and English-language media in Turkey.
TRT World’s YouTube channel, the English-language channel of the Turkish state-owned broadcasting network TRT, has at least a dozen videos featuring her, including an interview. Hundreds of news articles in Turkish about her have been published, some under headlines such as “Ilhan Omar Laid Out The U.S.’s Lies In The Middle East One By One!” and, in a play on a Turkish expression, “The One Who Tells The Truth Will Be Chased Out Of Nine Parliaments.”