Istanbul, May 25 () - Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli called on Turkey’s top cleric to resign due to his acceptance of a luxurious Mercedes as an official car.
Bahçeli was referring to the controversy over the official car of Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez, which has been estimated to have a value of 1 million Turkish Liras ($435,000).
Bahçeli told daily Posta on May 24 that Görmez should resign from his post immediately, as he was damaging his office due to the car polemic.
Görmez, Turkey’s top cleric, had said he would return the official car that was recently purchased, following strong criticism from opposition parties and the public. Yet, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would have rejected the return of the car if he had been informed beforehand.
The purchase of a Mercedes S500 sedan for the cleric, in addition to 14 Toyota cars for the Diyanet’s general directors and 16 minibuses for general use, elicited a strong reaction against the directorate.
The presidency will deliver a new car to the top cleric, Erdoğan said a few days ago.
“We have decided to make a gesture, a move which suits that position, in response to impoliteness towards our directorate of religious affairs” Erdoğan said on late May 21 in a televised interview.
Asked about the Mercedes which Erdoğan said the presidency would provide, Görmez only said, “Good Friday” to reporters on May 22.