Erdogan touts girl as future martyr
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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