Recep Tayyip Erdogan was delivering a speech at his ruling party’s congress in the city of Kahramanmaras on Saturday when he spotted tearful six-year-old Amine Tiras. He asked for her to be brought on stage and when she joined him, he kissed her on the cheeks to comfort her.
He then said to the crowd: “She has the Turkish flag in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr, God willing, this flag will be draped on her.”
People were outraged by Erdogan’s statement and took to Twitter to criticise the president. One user said it was the state’s duty to protect children, not to “kill” them.
Another said: “you don’t wish death for a child, you never say: ‘God willing’.”
In recent weeks, children dressed in commando uniforms or reciting nationalist poems have been making appearances in many events attended by the president. Yasar Okutan, a former government minister, accused Erdogan in a television interview of using children to increase votes in presidential and local elections in 2019. He questioned whether the president would have made the statement about being “martyred” to his own granddaughter.
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