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Turkish Government presents President Erdoğan as Ottoman Sultan [VIDEO]

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

On August 24, 2020, in honor of the 949th anniversary of the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, (today Malazgirt, Turkey), the Turkish Ministry of Communication released a music video titled the "Red Apple March."

Seeking to present the modern Turkish military as the heir to the armies of Turkish states stretching back 1,000 years, including the Ottoman empire and the Seljuks, the clip cuts between images of the Turkish military, including special forces, tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, rockets, naval vessels, and images of men in Ottoman and Seljuk military garb.

The video also shows the Turkish drill ships Fatih and Oruç Reis, which have recently been drilling and searching for natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

One section of the video features footage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan walking past a row of soldiers, cut with footage of an actor portraying an Ottoman sultan doing the same.

As an Ottoman military band plays outside, the actor, along with others portraying Sultan Alparslan, who led the Seljuk army to victory at the Battle of Manzikert, Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, and a child soldier from the Battle of Gallipoli, enter the Hagia Sophia Mosque and pray as audio of President Erdoğan reciting the opening verses of Surah Al-Fath ("Conquest") 48:1-3 plays in the background.

The video shows Islamic structures including the Kaaba in Mecca, and closes showing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The music features the zurna, a wind instrument central in the traditional Ottoman military band, giving the music a distinctly "Ottoman" sound.

The lyrics mix religious and nationalistic imagery and refer to the Kızıl Elma ("Red Apple"), a concept from Turkish mythology that has sometimes been used to refer to world domination and at other times has referred to a particular military goal by a Turkish state and, once that goal has been achieved, some other goal becomes the "Red Apple," making it ever-elusive.

Upon release of the video, Communications Minister Fahrettin Altun tweeted: "For us, the Red Apple is a great and powerful Turkey. It is the blessed march of our nation, which has written legends from Manzikert to July 15, [2016, i.e., the attempted coup in Turkey]. The Red Apple is the great sycamore tree in the shade of which many oppressed [peoples] cool themselves. It is what all people from Gibraltar to the Hijaz, from the Balkans to Asia, await wishfully."

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