Police in Turkey arrested five people on Sunday for spreading messages of alleged hatred towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by mocking his covid-19 infection on social media.

The computer crime unit investigated 36 accounts on social networks for jokes about the president’s health and gave orders to arrest eight people, but has so far only been able to find five, Turkish daily Hürriyet reports.

The most well-known name on the list is that of Derya Büyükuncu, an Olympic swimmer retired since 2012 and also known for participating in celebrity programs, who responded yesterday with a sarcastic tweet to the message of the president who had asked his followers for “prayers” for healing.

“He has been infected with coronavirus and wants prayers. We will pray, don’t worry. I have already started making 20 pans of sweets, which I will distribute around the neighborhood when the time comes,” Büyükuncu tweeted in reference to the custom of distributing traditional sweets to neighbors after a funeral.

The tweet was later deleted, but helva, the name of the Turkish sweet, trended on Twitter, both to ironically express a wish to see the president dead and to criticize that attitude.

Police did not arrest Büyükuncu, as it was confirmed that he is outside Turkey, according to the aforementioned newspaper.

At noon on Sunday, Erdogan announced in a new message that a routine check-up showed that there were no complications and that the illness was mild, so he continued to work from home with his wife, Emine Erdogan, who was also infected.

During the morning, the president thanked on Twitter the messages of speedy recovery from several heads of state or government, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Greece, Serbia and Somalia.

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