Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, speaks in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
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The main rival of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey's presidential election launched his campaign Thursday, positioning himself as a unifying figure against a dangerously polarizing opponent.Seeking to make clear the differences between himself and the premier, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is urging voters in the Aug. 10 polls to unite behind him after a turbulent year that saw the country divide between Erdogan's pious supporters and the secular segments of society.The protests began as a local movement to stop Istanbul's Gezi Park from being razed but quickly blew up into wider nationwide demonstrations against Erdogan's perceived authoritarianism.The softly spoken intellectual is seen as a reconciliatory and moderate figure, in stark contrast to Erdogan, whose uncompromising stance critics say has left Turkish society more polarized than ever.
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