Today, the president of Turkey was all over the German news, which claimed that he asked a little girl in uniform (who was called onto the stage with him and crying, I do not want to go into his motives here... all politicians like to be seen with children!) if she wanted to be a martyr.
But there are just as many claims that the translation of the presidents' words was somehow terribly mangled. As I don't speak Turkish, and the German media are currently in "click here!!!!" mode over this rather than trying to paint a balanced picture:

Did the Turkish President at any point ask this girl if she wanted to be a martyr?

Added: The earliest claim of that actual statement I could find was from Focus Online:

Der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan hat auf einem AKP-Kongress in Kahramanmaras die türkische Militäroffensive gegen die YPG im nordsyrischen Afrin verteidigt. Während seiner Rede holte er ein Mädchen in Soldatenuniform auf die Bühne und fragte es, ob es Märtyrer werden will.

Focus Online

My translation:

The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the military offensive against the YPG in Afrin, northern Syria, during an APK-congress in Kahramanmaras. During his speech, he brought a girl in a soldier's uniform onto the stage, and asked if she wanted to become a martyr.

It seems to have snowballed from there on, and I couldn't find out where Focus Online got their translation/interpretation from either.
Not speaking a word of Turkish leaves me sadly in the dark about what was actually said, as German Media seem to have latched onto this statement without much questioning.

  • 1
    You're going to need to find a reference to someone claiming this. We're not going to go digging for you.
    – DenisS
    Feb 26, 2018 at 19:43
  • While some media were indeed in hyperbole mode, I've seen several (Spiegel Online for example) being more modest, claiming that he "indirectly" asked her (which, according to the NYT translation Denis provided, seems to be correct).
    – DevSolar
    Feb 27, 2018 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


There is a video online that is not translated that supposedly contains the statement. However, some translations available online do not contain the phrase "Do you want to be a martyr?"

A video clip of the event was uploaded to Youtube on 24 February 2018 containing an event matching the descriptions provided by several different news outlets.

The video is in Turkish, and there is no English transcript available at this time. However, several elements that are included in news stories published do match up.

The BBC offers this translation

"If she's martyred, they'll lay a flag on her," he told the sobbing girl at a televised congress of his AK Party.

The New York Times provides a similar translation

“Her Turkish flag is in her pocket,” Mr. Erdogan proclaimed after calling Amine onstage. “If she becomes a martyr, God willing, she will be wrapped with it,” he said. “She is ready for everything, aren’t you?”

  • Thank you! This indeed sounds like a more faithful translation, AND I can see how they reached the conclusion shown everywhere!
    – Layna
    Feb 27, 2018 at 6:23

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