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Erdogan under fire for wishing martyrdom on crying 6-year-old girl

Former minister questions whether Turkish leader would say ‘God willing’ about his own granddaughter being killed in battle

In this photo from February 24, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kisses Amine Tiras, a young girl in military uniform as he speaks to his ruling party members, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this photo from February 24, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kisses Amine Tiras, a young girl in military uniform as he speaks to his ruling party members, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Pool Photo via AP, File)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under criticism for telling a small girl dressed in a military uniform that she would be honored if she were “martyred” for Turkey.

Erdogan spotted 6-year-old Amine Tiras weeping and saluting while the president delivering a speech at his ruling party’s congress in the city of Kahramanmaras on Saturday, and had her brought on stage.

After trying to comfort the girl by kissing her on both cheeks, Erdogan told the crowd: “She has the Turkish flag in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr, God willing, this flag will be draped on her.”

In this photo from February 24, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds Amine Tiras, a young girl in military uniform as he speaks to his ruling party members, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey.(Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Some people were appalled and took to Twitter to criticize the president.

One user said it was the state’s duty to protect children, not to “kill” them. Another said: “you don’t wish death for a child, you never say: ‘God willing.'”

His action comes as nationalist sentiment is running high over a Turkish cross-border military offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters that are affiliated with Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey. In recent weeks, children dressed in commando uniforms or reciting nationalist poems have been making appearances in many events that he attends.

Yasar Okutan, a former government minister, accused Erdogan in a television interview of using them to increase votes in presidential and local elections in 2019 and questioned whether the president would say the same for his own granddaughter.

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