A debate has stirred over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security after a local man jumped on stage to hug the president during his speech in the southeastern province of Şırnak on Dec. 24.
The incident occurred while Erdoğan was greeting the audience on stage. Suddenly, a man jumped up on the stage and tried to hug him, as the president and his guards pushed him away.
The man, Hüseyin Demircan, was removed from the stage by Erdoğan’s guards and was taken into custody before being released.
Following the incident, Demircan said his only aim had been to hug the president, but he had been misunderstood.
“I am the relative of a family of martyrs. A total of 13 people from my family have been killed by the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party]. Among the martyrs are my parents, two older brothers and two sisters. The PKK raided the village of Çiftkavak in 1987, a village in Şırnak, and killed many people from my family. I love the president very much. I went on the stage to hug him yesterday but they misunderstood and took me away. I had no other purpose than to give him a hug. They released me after I testified,” he said after the incident.
However, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal said the incident was not the result of a security gap.
“I was there at the time. The citizen is the son of a martyr, so the incident is not a security weakness. People are taken to the meeting room after a security check. It was a display of extreme love for President Erdoğan. I also met with him. He said he had acted like this out of love and excitement, adding that he had not known what to do when he saw Erdoğan,” Ünal said.
Meanwhile, the incident has raised question marks on how someone can get that close to the president, who is protected by a large group of bodyguards.
Erdoğan is guarded by high numbers of bodyguards, which have increased after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed more than 250 and wounded many others.