Turkish social media users erupted in protest on Aug. 19 and 20 after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that two PCR tests would be mandatory in the upcoming term for school employees who hadn't been vaccinated.
A hashtag that read "Stop the PCR mandate" received more than 300,000 comments on Twitter after the president's announcement, with a majority of the content implying that the tests were some sort of conspiracy.
Turkish schools are expected to open in September, the president said, adding that any teachers and school employees who will come into contact with students will be required to take at least two PCR tests every week.
University students and faculty will also be required to take PCR tests, the president added, although he didn't specify further than "regularly" as to the frequency.
"We will also implement PCR mandates for attendance at public events like concerts, theater halls and movie theaters," Erdoğan said. "We will also require mandatory PCR tests for planes and intercity bus travel."
The president didn't specify whether vaccines would excuse attendees of public events or passengers of public transportation from the PCR mandate.
"Why are our people being forced into PCR tests that Nobel Prize-winning inventor (Prof. Mullis) said couldn't be used for diagnosis?" wrote a user named Serhat Fındık who identified himself as a doctor.
İnsanlarımız— ProfDrSerhatFINDIK (@ProfSFindik) August 20, 2021
bizzat nobel ödüllü mucidinin (Prof. Mullis) söylediği PCR testine neden zorlanıyor ?
“Akletmez misiniz” der
Yüzlerce kez #PcrDayatmasıDurdurulsun
A petition text to appeal the PCR mandate also started circulating on Twitter, claiming that there was no legal or medical basis for the practice.
The petition based the appeal on articles of the Constitution that establish personal freedoms, and claimed that the effectiveness of PCR tests were highly contested both in Turkey and globally.
PCR İTİRAZ DİLEKÇESİ HAZIR— Dr. Fatma Kamiloğlu (@FtmKmlgl) August 20, 2021
Dostlar, dilekçe örneğini yayalım.
Dosya olarak da instagramdan bana yazın hemen yollayayım. https://t.co/OBTNQpUh8r
Bilgi ve dostluk paylaşıldıkça yayılır.#PcrDayatmasıDurdurulsun pic.twitter.com/sg2qf2cLH9
Meanwhile, an account named "Am I crazy?" shared a quote from French writer Jacques Attali that said "the future will be spent seeking ways to reduce the population," implying that the PCR tests were somehow harmful to a person's health.
Another conspiracy theorist urged his fellow "plandemic friends" to remain strong in the face of a global mob, although it wasn't quite clear whom he referred to.
"Friends, dear plandemic friends, I urge you to please stay strong, don't despair, the tools of this global mob will surely step down, just as long as we maintain our power and determination," wrote the conspiracy theorist called Cengiz Erdoğan.
Arkadaşlar, sevgili Plandemi dostları, sizden ricam güçlü durun, sakın umutsuzluğa düşmeyin, bu küresel çetenin aparatları mutlaka geri adım atacaktır, yeterki gücümüzü ve kararlılığımızı koruyalım #PcrDayatmasıDurdurulsun— Cengiz Erdoğan (@Altna27373914) August 19, 2021
Only 55.5 percent of the population in Turkey have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Ministry reports, and 292,538 tests were conducted on Aug. 19.