ISTANBUL, Turkey — Being interrupted by impatient audience members is a headache — but part of the job — for most politicians.
But for Turkey’s Transport and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan, the heckling on Tuesday came from an unusual source — a stubborn robot called “Sanbot.”
The white toddler-sized robot was a guest on stage as Arslan gave an address in Ankara to mark Safer Internet Day.
But as the minister — whose government has been accused of restricting freedom online, which it denies — held forth on the importance of a secure web, interventions came from an unexpected source.
“Speak slowly! I don’t understand what you are saying! What are you talking about?” the robot asked Arslan.
The minister, whose portfolio ranges from the internet to Turkey’s vast transportation projects, smiled as the audience burst into laughter when they realized the source of the interruption.
Keeping his good humor but with an air of baffled irritation, Arslan finally told Sanbot’s handlers to deal with the misfiring robot so he could carry on.
“Dear friends, it seems clear that the robot needs to be put under control. Please, can whoever is in charge do what is necessary!” he said.
The robot was later muted and the minister pressed on with his speech.
Turkish media reported that Sanbot was correctly formatted after Arslan finished his speech.
It was not immediately clear when Sanbot’s next public appearance is scheduled.