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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) departs after the jenazah, an Islamic funeral prayer, for the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, the US, June 9, 2016

    Not the Greatest: Erdogan Snubbed Ahead of Muhammad Ali Funeral, Departs US

    © REUTERS / Lucas Jackson
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    A series of incidents finally forced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to interrupt his visit to the United States, where he planned to attend the funeral ceremony for boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly interrupted his visit to the United States after an array of incidents ahead of the funeral service of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in his native city of Louisville, Kentucky, which Erdogan planned to attend, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

    The newspaper quoted presidential sources in Ankara as saying that Erdogan moved to depart for Turkey without taking part in the full funeral ceremony for the late boxer, which was attended by former US President Bill Clinton, Jordan's King Abdullah and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    When participating in funeral prayers for Ali on June 9, Erdogan reportedly tried to a put a piece of cloth from the Kaaba on the boxer's coffin but was refused the opportunity to do so.

    Eyewitnesses said that the organizers allegedly offered to put the piece of cloth on the casket themselves later on.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrives to take part in the jenazah, an Islamic funeral prayer, for the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 9, 2016
    © REUTERS / Lucas Jackson
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrives to take part in the jenazah, an Islamic funeral prayer, for the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 9, 2016

    However, another report claimed that Erdogan and Mehmet Gormez, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, were also forbidden to read a piece from the Quran near the boxer's coffin.

    Apparently, this proved to be the last straw, and compelled Erdogan to cut his trip short and return home.

    Meanwhile, the Voice of America's Turkish edition reported that a short quarrel also erupted between US secret service officials and Turkish presidential body guards during Erdogan's visit to the Muhammad Ali Center in Kentucky. 

    The incident reportedly occurred after a secret service official attempted to stand in the same place as presidential bodyguards while Erdogan was getting into his car. A fracas was prevented thanks to efforts of security agents standing nearby.

    Muhammad Ali died last week at the age of 74 after a protracted fight with Parkinson's disease. He died at a Phoenix-area hospital, where he had been treated for respiratory complications related to his illness for the preceding few days.

    The embattled Turkish President has, for his part, recently faced international condemnation for his repeated crackdowns on political opponents and journalists, along with his administration's continued practice of buying oil from and funneling armaments to Daesh terrorists.

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    Tags:
    funeral service, boxer, incidents, ceremony, security, Muhammad Ali, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, United States
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