Is Recep Tayyip Erdogan unwell? Social media users to be punished by Turkey for claiming President is dead

Written By: Palki Sharma WION
Ankara, Turkey Published: Nov 03, 2021, 11:45 PM(IST)

File Photo: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves after the Global Refugee Forum at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Speculation like this is dangerous for any country, especially one that is dealing with an economic crisis. The prospect of instability is bad news, and Erdogan's response isn't helping

Several videos featuring Recep Tayyip Erdogan have gone viral in which the Turkish President appears sick. However, instead of addressing these concerns, Erdogan is going after those who are raising questions over his health.

In a clip that went viral on Twitter recently, Erdogan seemed to be struggling to walk while leaving the hall. People on social media agree with this as some pointed out that he does not look well and some called for his resignation.

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His images have triggered a debate and a hashtag #olmus (#heisdead) is already trending in his home country, Turkey. The hashtag suggests that Erdogan has died. While this trend was misleading, questions about the Turkish President's health are serious.

A series of videos, have surfaced this year and Erdogan doesn't look well in any of them. A video posted in February shows Erdogan descending the stairs and it looked like he needed assistance from his wife.

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Another video which appeared in August showed Erdogan at Anıtkabir — the mausoleum of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In that video, too, it seemed like he was struggling to walk.

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A lot of rumours are swirling about Erdogan's health.

Some accounts say he has been forgetting things, complaining about breathing problems, feeling confused and vomiting. There is a report that says Erdogan received an internal defibrillator implant which is a device that stops abnormal heartbeats. Going by the same accounts, Erdogan now has more doctors around him than his staff, he has reduced his encounters with the press and he takes painkillers before public events.

Speculation like this is dangerous for any country, especially one that is dealing with an economic crisis. The prospect of instability is bad news, and Erdogan's response isn't helping. Instead of proving he is fit for the job, he wants to punish those who are asking questions. The Turkish cyber police have launched an investigation and they will probe the tweets that question Erdogan's health. Nearly 30 individuals will face scrutiny.

Ankara says the concerns around Erdogan's health are baseless. The Turkish government is engaging in a battle of narratives. Erdogan's aides are taking to social media and are posting videos that show Erdogan in good health. The clips shared by his Director of Communications shows the president walking normally.

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Before this, Ankara has put out another video which showed Erdogan playing basketball with his ministers. At a time when the government must instill confidence in its people, it is fighting a video war with them.

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