A brief semiological analysis of an Erdoğan photo


This photo was released officially after Erdoğan’s talk with Obama before the G -20 Summit.

The photo with what it contains and with what not contains gives out much to think about.

Among the many possible many symbols, we see that a symbolic ‘Rabia’ sculpture on the left is particularly focused. The photo does not contain a Turkish flag or an Atatürk image but the most political sign that can be found is related to the fate of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Turkish Islamists’ sympathy for Muslim Brotherhood is not new. Many Islamists around Erdoğan grew up with the grievance agains Asad regime in Syria who massacred many MB members back in 1980s in Hama.  A permanent section in martyrdom tales.

The books behind the desk. In fact they are possibly classified as encyclopedias. This reminds me many middle class families including mine in which encyclopedias are put into library as a sign of exhibition. They are not for reading but for an accessory. All tight and orderly. My mother would keep my encyclopedia but not books especially paperbacks. Because they don’t look good. I cannot ready what encyclopedia are in there but at least the one of the left below is Encyclopedia of Islam issued by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate. Probably some others there included Quran Exegesis, Prophet’s sayings and life, and probably one generic Larousse Encyclopedia that was widely given by newspapers during 1990s.

The phone, which is mostly found in ordinary offices, dominates the table. (In fact, I have the same phone in my office) I guess this is to emphasize the talk with Obama as the gadget is right in the middle of the table, it seems. On the right hand side at the table, there is a hardcover under a notebook. It seems like a Redhouse English dictionary we used to have in high school. Maybe Erdoğan uses it while he talks to Obama. The findings on the table reminds me a pre-digital era. Nothing reminds me digital times. It looks like Erdoğan is still in his store as a merchant, calculate income and expenditures. Many small scale store owners can sympathize with that. I do not believe Erdoğan has digital natives in his mind. There is a highlighter, papers to work on….

The table itself is bombastic and the color is depressive. But I know it gives a sense of grandeur. My mother would prefer this color. My mother would force my father to but the same kind of furniture which would in the make one of the rooms so stuffy we could not stay in. My sister, when she got married, forced her husband to buy same overwhelming dark color furnitures. Then I would feel i am in a museum or something…

The table is overwhelming but not that practical.

Finally the plugs on the right hand side.It just looks like a living room. Nothing to say, just I feel like…





A sculpture in the shape of the four-fingered “Rabia” hand gesture on the desk of PresidentErdoğan has drawn attention after being photographed during his phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama

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