Once the stuff of science fiction, the hologram is now the latest gadget in Turkish Prime Minister’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political toolbox.
Wanting to address a Justice and Development (AKP) party meeting in the coastal city of Izmir on Sunday, but unable to make it in person, Erdogan instead had his image reflected upon the stage by 3D beams, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The crowd, which was being introduced to the local district mayoral candidates, erupted with applause.
This is not the first time a politician has used holography. Nerendra Modi, an Indian politician, utilized the technology in his re-election campaign in 2012. And Erdogan — who on Tuesday flew to Iran for a two-day visit — joins a growing list of notable hologram personalities, including deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, and Star Wars villain Darth Vader.
The prime minister’s AKP is targeting the province as a key battlefield in the upcoming local elections, although graft allegations against the relative of municipal candidate and former Transport Minister Binali Yildirim have damaged the image of the party in a city traditionally affiliated with the opposition.
“We are going to elections in the shadow of attacks prepared by treasonous networks. I urge all my mayoral candidates to not waste any of their time,” the Erdogan avatar told the audience.
Erdogan last month dismissed four government ministers implicated in a vast corruption and bribery scandal surrounding alleged illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects. He then quickly moved to replace police officials involved in the investigation, an action which news reports said thwarted a second corruption probe that sought to question his son, Bilal Erdogan, among others. Police allegedly refused to bring Erdogan’s son for questioning on prosecutors’ orders.
Erdogan insists the corruption investigation targeting people close to him has been orchestrated by an Islamic movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan says Gulen’s followers have risen to key positions in Turkey’s judiciary and police, and that they want to harm the government ahead of local elections in March.
Gulen has denied any involvement in the probe but hundreds of police officials, prosecutors and judges — either directly involved in the investigations or believed to sympathize with the religious movement — have been removed from their posts and reassigned to other positions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.