In Video, Turkish President Watches Violence at DC Protest

One theory suggests that Erdogan ordered his guards to attack protesters
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2017 9:26 AM CDT
A screenshot of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center, his back to camera) looking toward the protest violence.   (Voice of America)

(Newser) – A DC protest that turned violent earlier this week made headlines because armed members of the visiting Turkish president's security detail were seen pummeling protesters near the home of Turkey's ambassador. Nine people were hospitalized, and the violence stirred outrage online as critics of Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused him of bringing his oppressive tactics against dissent to the US. A new video won't help. It shows Erdogan surveying the violent scene with aides upon exiting a car, reports the New York Times. Perhaps worse is a chain of events laid out on Twitter by Washington Post reporter Philip Bump. As Bump puts it, it "looks like Erdogan telling his goons to assault peaceful protesters in America."

Before Erdogan emerges from the car, an aide ducks his head in, then pops out and speaks to another man, who heads toward the protesters. Within seconds, the violence breaks out. Bump writes that the video of Erdogan could "raise the stakes" in the controversy. The White House has been silent on the protest and violence, though a State Department spokesperson said that "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech," and that those concerns would be relayed to Turkey's government "in the strongest possible way," per the Voice of America. Turkey, for its part, denies any role in inciting violence. Two members of Erdogan's security detail who clashed with American security personnel were detained, then released because of diplomatic protection. They will not be allowed to return to the US, a congressional aide tells the Times. (Read more Recep Tayyip Erdogan stories.)

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