Is Turkey's President Dead? Online Hashtag Speculates Erdogan's Health

Published November 4th, 2021 - 10:05 GMT
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is 67 years old and has been president of Turkey since 2014.

For a month now, speculations about the health condition of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been flooding social media, especially after an opinion piece in the Foreign Policy publication that doubted Erdoğan's ability to run for the 2023 presidential elections for health reasons.

The article written by the FP's Steven A. Cook raised concerns about Erdogan's health, citing a series of recent videos which showed signs of health deterioration of the Turkish president. Cook's argument cast doubts that Erdogan will be able to run for the next democratic bid in two years if his health does not show signs of progress.

Erdogan's health
Erdogan's recent public appearance in Rome, Italy for the G20 Summit. Oct 30, 2021 (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP)


At that time, Erdogan's Director of Communications Fahrettin Al Tun denied the reports and described it as "fake news."

Such remarks seem to have successfully alarmed the Turkish public which had been already noticing signs of illness on Erdogan since the July video message released by the Turkish president on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha, in which his voice and tone hinted of health struggles, including expectations that Erdogan might have Parkinson's disease.

Yet, these speculations have gone viral on social media again this week using the hashtag #olmus (Turkish for dead), with many Turkish users wondering if the president is alive in the first place.

Following the internet trend, local journalists reported that at least 30 people have been arrested by authorities for "spreading fake news online," all related to death rumors and the possibility of Erdogan's health deteriorating.

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