Erbakan died at the age of 85 from cardiac and respiratory failure at an Ankara hospital on Sunday, where he had been a patient since early January. He was laid to rest in İstanbul on Tuesday.
Erbakan entered politics in 1969. A mechanical engineer by profession, he became an important political figure who significantly influenced Turkish politics. Erbakan was referred to as the “teacher” of several of Turkey’s leading political figures, including President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Turkey Party (TP) leader Abdüllatif Şener and former Felicity Party (SP) leader Recai Kutan.
Deputies opened the session with a moment of silence in a show of respect for the late politician. State Minister Mehmet Aydın, who addressed Parliament on behalf of the government, defined Erbakan as a “successful man of science” and a “figure of Turkish politics who was known by the entire world.” Aydın also said the late politician had led his Milli Görüş (National View) political movement for 42 years.
“I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Necmettin Erbakan as well as to the entire Turkish nation. Erbakan left his mark on Turkey’s recent political past and served his country for many years as a politician who had a vision and a mission. For him, the unity of Turkey stood above all,” Aydın said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Mehmet Şandır said Erbakan was a “man of his cause” and spent his life in pursuit of his ideals. “He was busy with the works of his Felicity Party and showed everyone the value of serving his country. He is a martyr of duty. He passed away as he was still working,” he noted. Şandır also said everyone should remember Erbakan for his good deeds.
Bengi Yıldız, the parliamentary group deputy chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), argued that Erbakan was subjected to injustice during the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup. After the coup, the military forced Erbakan’s coalition government to step down. His ruling Welfare Party (RP) was then banned by the courts while he was barred from active politics for a temporary period of time. “I’d like to ask one question. Hundreds of thousands of people attended Erbakan’s funeral. I wonder how many people will attend the funerals of the actors of Feb. 28,” he said.
Followers visit Erbakan’s grave
Erbakan’s followers stayed by his grave after the funeral ended on Tuesday. Many people visited the late politician’s grave well into the night. They recited from the Quran and prayed for him. On Wednesday morning, former Justice Minister Şevket Kazan, a close friend of Erbakan, visited the late politician’s grave. He spoke briefly with other visitor and then left without addressing the reporters.
Orhan Demir, a man confined to a wheelchair, said he had traveled to İstanbul from Mersin to attend Erbakan’s funeral but failed to see his coffin due to the large crowd. “I chose to watch the funeral from the back rows so as not to be crushed during the ceremony. I am now by his grave to pray for him. May God grant Erbakan heaven. May he rest in peace,” he said.