By Ahmet Esad Sani
A Muslim singing star has released a new song for Turkey’s president ahead of the country's June 24 presidential elections.
Maher Zain, a Lebanese-born Swedish R&B singer, songwriter, and music producer who has sung in English, Arabic, and Turkish, recorded the song "Harvest Time" for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The president has used the song -- which has a video showing him meeting with people -- on the campaign trail.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Zain said Erdogan is "well loved by all Muslims around the world."
"When you judge a leader, you judge him on decisions he makes in difficult situations. I think President Erdogan has shown tremendous global leadership when it comes to dealing with some of the major humanitarian challenges of our times," Zain said.
Zain also stressed Turkey's "incredible support" for Syrian refugees.
"To host over 3 million refugees and spend billions of dollars hosting them and looking after them is no easy task for any country. It shows a unique moral stance driven by compassion for humanity," he said.
"I recently visited Bangladesh and saw for myself the support Turkey is providing to the Rohingya refugees there. Turkey, under the leadership of the president, is a model for many Muslim countries -- it is democratic, pluralist, and proud of its identity and heritage. May God bless him and bless the Turkish people for what they are doing."
On the process of composing the song and writing the lyrics, Zain said Erdogan -- in a brief meeting with the artist's friends -- had jokingly asked for a song about Turkey.
"I felt honored and obliged. I’m not Turkish but I always pray to see a strong and stable Turkey. I promised the president that I would deliver the song by the end of May. I only had 10 days to do everything. It was Ramadan and so much pressure! But Alhamdulillah [praise God] it’s done now," he said.
Zain said he is a "strong believer" in unity, so he stressed the word in his song.
"We live in a global village where unity is absolutely necessary for a peaceful world. Despite the differences which exist, I believe that there is a lot to gain in uniting around our values, history, and common humanity," he said.
"I’m someone who doesn’t like disunity and I hope one day that as different nations and communities, we can put our differences aside and live as one global family. That’s my dream."
The song was written by Ahmet Kurtis, a Macedonian poet who Zain had previously worked with on several songs.