ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chided a promising young footballer Friday for having a tattoo on his wrist, warning such foreign-inspired body art could give him skin cancer.
The incident occurred when Erdogan visited the Turkish national team’s training facilities in Istanbul, where he chatted and shook hands with young players.
In a video circulated on social media websites, a smiling Erdogan is heard telling the 18-year old Galatasaray player Berk Yildiz: “What are these tattoos? Why do you harm your body?”
“Don’t be fooled by foreigners. God forbid, it could even give you skin cancer in the future,” Erdogan said as Yildiz’s teammates giggled uneasily.
AKP leader Erdogan beckoned over the besuited Turkish national coach Fatih Terim and the Turkish football federation president Yildirim Demiroren to further make his point.
Following Erdogan’s rebuke, Yildiz promised him that he would remove his tattoo. The young player has already represented his country at junior level.
Also Friday, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party ordered a senior regional party official to resign after pictures apparently showed him drinking alcohol, media reported Friday.
Mustafa Celebi, the head of the AKP in a district of the southwestern Mugla province, can be seen in photos posted on social media drinking alcohol with two colleagues, according to the website of the Hurriyet daily.
Drinking alcohol is legal in Turkey and beers, wines and spirits are easily available especially in Istanbul, Ankara and the coastal resorts.
However, the Islamic-rooted AKP takes a dim view of drinking.
Hurriyet said the AKP sent an official from the neighboring Izmir province to investigate the claims, and the recommendation was made to AKP deputy leader Suleyman Soylu.
Soylu agreed that Celebi should resign and he is expected to quit early next week, it added.
Recent measures by the ruling party to increase taxes on alcohol and ban advertising for drinks caused uproar among secularists who fear an Islamic takeover of the country.