Politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have shared videos of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan walking in an apparent bid to refute claims that he is seriously ill.
"Giving trust to friends and fear to enemies," Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said in a tweet on Nov. 3 with a video showing Erdoğan walking.
Dosta güven, düşmana korku… pic.twitter.com/ljoR6UEAuI— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) November 3, 2021
Erdoğan's personal photographer has also shared a video showing him boarding a plane.
"In the 19th year..." Murat Çetinmühürdar said, referring to the 19th anniversary of the AKP's rule.
19.Yılında …Maşallah 😊 pic.twitter.com/dEJ0WSb3MX— Murat Çetinmühürdar (@MCMuhurdar) November 3, 2021
AKP Ankara provincial chair Hakan Han Özcan was another politician to share a video, although his was more aggressive.
"Jackals find a place to hide, the lion of God is here," Özcan tweeted.
Çakallar mevzilenin Allah’ın aslanı geldi! pic.twitter.com/BtedTy0ay0— Hakan Han ÖZCAN 🇹🇷 (@hakanhanozcan) November 3, 2021
AKP deputy Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı didn't share a video, but said that Erdoğan is very healthy.
"The chief has arrived from Istanbul to Ankara. He is very healthy. Those who try to bite him would lose their teeth," Çamlı said on Nov. 3.
"Don't listen to the little devils," he added.
Reis şimdi İstanbul'dan Ankara'ya geldi, turp gibi maşallah,ısırmaya kalkanların dişleri kırılır...— Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı (@ahmethamdicamli) November 3, 2021
Şeytancıklara itibar etmeyin....
The social media posts were shared in an attempt to debunk rumors surrounding Erdoğan's health that have been ongoing for weeks. The claims are voiced both by politicians and social media users.
Most recently, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Aykut Erdoğdu said on Nov. 2 that claims of Erdoğan's sickness are circulating in WhatsApp groups.
Noting that he stood against Erdoğan throughout his political career, Erdoğdu said that his only wish is to see the president compete in elections in good health - so that he can lose.
Erdoğan’ın sağlık durumu ile ilgili WhatsApp mesajları dönüp duruyor…— Aykut Erdoğdu (@aykuterdogdu) November 2, 2021
Siyasi hayatım Erdoğan ile mücadeleyle geçti…
Erdoğan’ın bana açtığı onlarca davada haksızlığa uğradım…
Tek dileğim Erdoğan’ın seçimlere sağlıklı ve zinde olarak girmesi ve sandıkta Halka hesap vermesi…
Erdoğan's wellbeing was also questioned by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and right-wing opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener last month, with the former calling for the president to obtain a health certificate.
"Asking for a health certificate has become a national security matter. Erdoğan should obtain a health certificate from an independent organization urgently!" the CHP leader said on Twitter on Oct. 6.
Three days later, Kılıçdaroğlu continued questioning Erdoğan's health, this time asking whether he is feeling well.
"You keep repeating the same things these days. Are you OK?" Kılıçdaroğlu asked Erdoğan on Oct. 9.
Akşener also questioned the president's mental wellbeing, as she suggested sudoku and Vitamin B to him against "absentmindedness."
"I would like to take this occasion to advise him to solve sudoku instead of playing basketball and take Vitamin B. Because contrary to his low average score in basketball, a memory problem of a president is a national issue," she said on Oct. 13, referring to a recent video shared by the presidency that showed Erdoğan playing basketball with ministers and his aides.
The basketball video was another attempt to dismiss the sickness rumors following an article on Foreign Policy.
"It's important to exercise for health. I try to exercise three times a week," Erdoğan said on his Twitter account alongside the long version of the footage on Oct. 3.
Sağlık için spor yapmak çok çok önemli. Ben de haftada üç gün spor yapmaya gayret ediyorum. Harekette bereket vardır. 🏀 pic.twitter.com/7sDmQV7MSp— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 3, 2021
In the article, Steven A. Cook and Eni Enrico Mattei claimed that Erdoğan may be too ill to compete in the 2023 elections.
"In recent months, a series of videos have surfaced in which the Turkish leader has not looked well. Some of them are not as clear as others, but, taken together, they raise some obvious questions about Erdoğan’s health," they said in the piece.
"Of course, these rumors are most often repeated by people outside of Turkey or more than a few steps removed from the president’s inner circle, so the allegations of Erdoğan’s coming demise might just be idle chatter," they noted.
Police take legal action against Twitter users
Turkish police, meanwhile, said on Nov. 3 that legal action was taken against Twitter users who claimed that Erdoğan is dead.
The police said that 30 social media users were using the hashtag "#ölmüş," which translates as "he's dead," to insult Erdoğan and spread misinformation.
According to the police, the 30 individuals in question were offensive towards Erdoğan's honor and shared posts that were manipulative.
Separately, Erdoğan's lawyers filed a complaint with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's office, requesting that the relevant Twitter users be investigated on charges of "insulting" the president — a crime that is punishable with a prison term of up to four years.