Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a trip on June 9 to the United States, where he had gone to attend the funeral ceremony of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
According to information from presidential sources, however, Erdogan and other government representatives, decided to depart for Turkey without participating in the full funeral ceremony for the late boxer in Louisville, Kentucky.
The president participated in funeral prayers for Ali and also had a fast-breaking meal (iftar) with Meskhetian Turks.
Erdogan reportedly attempted to a put a piece of cloth from the Kaaba on Ali’s coffin during the funeral prayers but was refused permission to do so.
But according to another report, the president and Diyanet head Mehmet Görmez were rejected when they asked to read a piece from the Quran, which led the president to cut his program short.
Meanwhile, a short quarrel also erupted between U.S. secret service officials and Turkish presidential body guards, reportedly because a secret service official wanted to stand in the same place as presidential bodyguards as Erdogan was getting into his car.
Before arriving in the U.S., funeral organizers had removed Erdogan from the list of speakers on the grounds that there would not be sufficient time.
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 will be laid to rest on June 10.