Er­do­gan touts girl as fu­ture mar­tyr

The Timaru Herald - - WORLD -

TURKEY: Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has come un­der fire for telling a tear­ful young girl wear­ing a mil­i­tary uni­form that the coun­try would honour her if she be­came a mar­tyr.

Er­do­gan in­vited the girl on stage dur­ing a tele­vised meet­ing of his Is­lamist-rooted Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party last Sun­day. Ac­cord­ing to the New York Times, she was 6 years old.

The girl ap­peared to be sob­bing as she walked to­wards the podium. Er­do­gan kissed her on both cheeks and in­di­cated a Turk­ish flag in her pocket.

‘‘If she is mar­tyred, a flag will be put on her, God will­ing,’’ he told the crowd. ‘‘She is ready for ev­ery­thing, isn’t she?’’ He then gave her a fi­nal kiss be­fore let­ting her go.

It was un­clear why the girl, who has not been iden­ti­fied, was dressed in a mil­i­tary uni­form.

Those in the au­di­ence yelled ‘‘Chief! Take us to Afrin!’’ in ref­er­ence to an of­fen­sive launched by Turkey on Jan­uary 20 in north­west­ern Syria. Yes­ter­day, Turkey sent spe­cial forces to the Afrin re­gion. af­ter Ankara said a United Na­tions res­o­lu­tion call­ing for a 30-day cease­fire through­out Syria did not ap­ply to its of­fen­sive.

Veli Ag­baba, deputy chair­man of the main op­po­si­tion CHP party, said: ‘‘Bring­ing a lit­tle child to the stage in front of thou­sands of peo­ple and bless­ing death is a big mis­take. Chil­dren should never be in the shadow of weapons, and should not be the face of wars.’’

Er­do­gan has pre­vi­ously said he wants to raise a ‘‘pi­ous gen­er­a­tion’’. The cur­ricu­lum in Turkey’s re­li­gious vo­ca­tional schools this year in­tro­duced the con­cept of ji­had as be­ing about pa­tri­o­tism. Stu­dent in­takes at Is­lamic schools have in­creased sharply since 2012.

– Tele­graph Group

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PHOTO: AP

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan stands with a young girl in a mil­i­tary uni­form, whom he said was ‘‘ready for ev­ery­thing’’, as he speaks to mem­bers of his Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party at a meet­ing in Kahra­man­maras.

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