Why is Turkey Fuming Over Erdogan Opening a Coca-Cola Factory?

Published August 14th, 2017 - 12:03 GMT
This image of Erdogan make the Rabaa sign while opening the Coca-Cola factory on Saturday was widely circulated on social media (Twitter)
This image of Erdogan make the Rabaa sign while opening the Coca-Cola factory on Saturday was widely circulated on social media (Twitter)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has often framed himself as a "friend of Palestinians", has sparked anger in Turkey after he attended the opening of a factory belonging to Coca-Cola, accused by some of supporting Israel.

According to photos circulated on social media, Erdoğan made the Rabaa signal associated with support for the Muslim Brotherhood as he opened the plant in Isparta on Saturday.

This did not sit well with some Islamist groups in the country, including the leader of the Furkan Islamic movement, Alparslan Kuytul‏, who criticized Erdoğan’s attendance in a series of tweets.

Another Twitter account @IslamicMovemen3 tweeted:

Outraged Turks launched the hashtag #ErdoğanınCocaCola (“Erdoğan’s Coca-Cola”) to blast their President’s apparent support for Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola was the target of a boycott by the Arab League from 1966 until the early nineties, after it opened a bottling plant in Tel Aviv. 

Later, during the 2014 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, Turkish businesses spurned Coca-Cola, over what was widely believed to be its support for Israel. 

This, despite Coca-Cola’s protestations that it does not support any particular country or political stance, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet.


The new factory will produce beverages for Coca-Cola İçecek, the company’s subsidiary in Turkey, the majority share of which is owned by the Anadolu Group. Coca-Cola İçecek is the company’s sixth-largest bottler, representing 4 percent of global sales in 2012.

Erdoğan’s controversial show of support for the factory drew the attention of Carlos Latuff, a Brazilian freelance political cartoonist known for his work on Palestine and the Arab Spring.

On August 12, Latuff wrote “The BDS movement defends the boycott of Coca Cola but Erdogan, the "friend of Palestinians" seems not interested…”

He also produced satirical artwork of the incident, translating the caption into Arabic and Turkish.

Latuff, who is of Lebanese descent, also joked that he had made a new logo for Erdoğan’s ruling AKP party, replacing the lightbulb on the party’s existing emblem with a coke bottle.

As well as suggesting a Coca-Cola commercial could be the new national anthem for “Erdoganistan”.


Erdogan is under fire for his increasingly authoritarian rule of Turkey, where over 50,000 individuals have been arrested since last July's failed coup. According to rights groups, charges of terrorism and involvement in the coup are being used to detain anyone expressing opposition.

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