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Turkey’s president accused of child abuse after leaving girl, 6, in tears during TV appearance

Category: Gender based violence 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being sharply criticized after he brought a 6-year-old girl to tears during a televised political gathering over the weekend by telling her she “God-willing” could become a martyr someday. The stunning moment occurred at a gathering of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party. Amine Tiras, a first-grader, according to The New York Times, was in attendance wearing a Turkish military uniform, including the maroon beret worn by the country’s special forces operations.


Erdogan spotted the young girl and summoned her to join him on the stage. He was seen in news footage whispering in Tiras’ ear when she arrived onstage with him. Then, he addressed the audience and TV cameras, which were broadcasting live. By then, the little girl was sobbing.


“Look what you see here! Girl, what are you doing here? We have our maroon berets here, but maroon berets never cry,” he reportedly told Tiras. “Her Turkish flag is in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr, God willing, she will be wrapped with it,” the strongman president said, his voice booming through a microphone. “She is ready for everything, aren’t you?” He then gave the girl a kiss on the cheek and shuffled her off the stage.





While Erdogan’s rhetoric left the girl in tears, his supporters ate it up. “Chief! Take us to Afrin!” they reportedly shouted in response, referring to Turkey’s combat operations in Syria’s northern Afrin region against Kurdish fighters.


On social media, Erdogan’s behavior drew sharp criticism. The spectacle was called shameful and inappropriate by some, drew comparisons to Hitler and at least one critic accused him of committing child abuse.

Erdogan hasn’t responded to the criticism, but a photo of him cupping the crying girl’s face was posted on his official Twitter feed.

Others pointed out that Erdogan’s own children have avoided serving in the military and wondered if he would’ve made such a statement to his granddaughter. Below, watch a video clip of the incident.



Tags: child abuse Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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