Turkey’s top imam agrees to return controversial TL 1 mln official car

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SHAFAQNA – Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez has said his office will return a recently purchased official car that sparked controversy after reports showed that it costs TL 1 million. Speaking during a live TV program on Monday night, Görmez denied reports that the vehicle is armored and that the reports were a “perception operation” to misinform the public. “We will return the vehicle to teach a lesson,” Görmez said. The directorate became the focus of criticism when a luxury car costing TL 1 million was purchased for Görmez last December using Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate Foundation (Türk diyanet Vakfı) budget. After news of the purchase spread, the directorate said in a statement that the State Procurement Office bought the car with the knowledge of the Finance Ministry.

The directorate was established by Parliament as an official institution on March 3, 1924, after the abolition of the caliphate. It represents the highest Islamic religious authority in the country.

The foundation is often the focus of criticism as it represents and promotes Sunni Islam and does not recognize Alevism, a religious branch of Islam. But its budget is paid through taxes received from the entire public.

The report comes amid widespread claims of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) misuse of taxpayers’ money, which has recently peaked, especially with the construction of a colossal complex for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was prime minister until last August and co-founded the AK Party. The presidential palace, which Erdoğan said has more than 1,150 rooms, was built on state forest land at a cost of TL 1.37 billion, according to Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, although critics have claimed that the total cost could be more than three times as high.

Source : http://www.todayszaman.com/

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