Self-proclamation of Muslim leadership

Neo-Ottomanism is a Turkish political ideology that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have sought to pursue, with the aim of promoting greater political engagement of the modern Republic of Turkey within regions formerly under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, its predecessor state. Neo-Ottomanism has been asserted more in the Muslim Middle East, where Ottomans ruled for around 400 years, rather than in the other lands ruled, including the Balkans.
The AKPand’s search for the revival of Ottomanism has been unwelcome in the Muslim world hence, it has not succeeded. On the contrary, Turkeyand’s many ill-conceived policies on the affairs of the Middle East have resulted in the country losing its credibility as a model to Muslim countries with its secular, democratic type of governance.
Yet President Erdogan, whose internal critics accuse him of acting like an Ottoman sultan, appears to still be dreaming of a Turkey representing the Muslim world. His recent remarks over a controversy surrounding a costly official Mercedes car of Mehmet GandOrmez, head of Turkeyand’s Religious Affairs Directorate, stand as evidence that Erdogan believes in Turkeyand’s Muslim leadership, although it is only he who believes in it.
This is because Erdogan has established similarities between Turkeyand’s top Muslim cleric and Pope Francis, who represents 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world.
In an interview with local TV station NTV on May 26, Erdogan promised a private jet to Turkeyand’s top cleric, claiming that Pope Francis has one, too.
and”[Religious Affairs Directorate President] Mr. Mehmet GandOrmez is not only the religious leader of Turkey. In fact, he is the respected religious leader of this geographical area in the Islamic world,and” Erdogan said, believing what he was saying, even if it is not true.
He went on to say that GandOrmez, thus, deserved the same conveniences as Pope Francis of the Vatican, whom he claimed has a private jet, private cars and armored vehicles. The Vatican, however, denied Erdoganand’s claims.
Erdogan said he would ask the government to provide a private jet to the countryand’s top Muslim cleric, GandOrmez, also ignoring criticism caused by his earlier promise to give him an armored Mercedes. Erdoganand’s promise to provide GandOrmez with luxury vehicles came after this top Muslim cleric was obliged to return his official Mercedes, which cost about TL 1.3 million, in response to mounting criticism. Internally, controversy surrounding a posh official car of Turkeyand’s top religious leader demonstrates the Turkish governmentand’s recklessness in spending Turkish taxpayersand’ money on luxury goods, even though the poverty level of Turks has been increasing. One in every 10 families lives below the poverty level, says the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) in its May report.
Against this background, it is tragic and unfortunate that Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek earlier said the money paid for official cars used by top state leaders and bureaucrats is peanuts within the Turkish economy. His comments came in response to criticism leveled by critics about GandOrmezand’s luxury car that it was a misuse of taxpayersand’ funds.
Simsek said official cars cost the state TL 3.3 billion in 2014, while Turkeyand’s overall budget was TL 473 billion. Yet TL 3.3 billion is higher than the money allocated for each of several ministries, including the Ministry of Health, for this fiscal year.
Erdogan, who promised to allocate a private jet to the countryand’s top religious leader, has himself been criticized for moving into a 1,150-room palace that was constructed despite a court injunction. According to the Finance Ministry, its cost is around TL 1.37 billion, although critics say the total cost could be at least three times higher. The AKPand’s style of governance, which describes citizensand’ money allocated for posh official cars as peanuts while believing in a Muslim leadership role, though it is unwelcome, is not sustainable.
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We will see how the Turkish voters will respond to Erdogan and his ruling AKPand’s unsustainable policies when they cast their votes at the ballot box in the June 7 national election.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman