Attending Muhammed Ali’s burial was ‘not necessary:’ Erdoğan
AP photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded to speculation over why he cut his trip to the United States short, saying he thought it would be “unnecessary” to stay until the burial ceremony of boxing legend Muhammed Ali after realizing the event on June 10 would have “no religious aspect.”
“We saw that the program scheduled for Friday [June 10] had no religious aspect,” Erdoğan told reporters on June 11, adding there was no mention of political leaders joining the ceremony either, hence no possibility of arranging bilateral talks with other politicians.
“We thought, ‘Our country is in a sensitive period, there is a lot of work to do there,’ and decided to return before waiting for Friday,” the president said.
Erdoğan was initially among a number of speakers to address the attendees of Ali’s funeral, but was later removed from the list by funeral organizers on the grounds that there would not be sufficient time.
Reports also said that Erdoğan attempted to put a piece of cloth from the Kabaa on Ali’s coffin during the funeral prayers but was refused permission to do so.
Meanwhile, the change in plans was a result of discord with a company who previously bought 80 percent of Ali’s royalties and which was the organizer of the funeral, Tolga Tanış from daily Hürriyet reported.
Accordingly, the company preferred not to include Erdoğan among the speakers, considering its commercial interests.
Former world heavyweight champion Ali, whose record-setting boxing career, flair for showmanship and political stands made him one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, died on June 3 aged 74.
He was laid to rest on June 10.