Turkey's religious head in hot water over $435,000 new luxury car

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, front left, speaks with Mehmet Gormez, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, after a meeting with African Muslim religious leaders in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 21. 2011. (AP Photo)

Turkey’s top religious authority is in hot water over the purchase of a new car. Mehmet Görmez head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has rid himself of a $435,000, a Mercedes S500 luxury sedan.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, public scrutiny and criticism was directed against Görmez from both the public and opposition members of government over the purchase of the car as well as 14 Toyota cars for the general directors of the Diyanet as well as 16 minibuses for general use.

Despite claiming that his office issued a request to purchase the new car because the current car in service was rather old, Görmez has said he will “return this car to constitute an example”.

The Diyanet defended the purchases by clarifying that the purchases were made with state funds and not with citizens’ private donations to the Diyanet.

“When the news broke [about the purchase], the vehicle had not even been used by the head of the Diyanet [the Religious Affairs Directorate]. This vehicle turned into a grave for me after I saw the reports. I have not used this car for even one day,” Görmez told private broadcaster Habertürk TV late May 4 in an interview.

Görmez met Pop Francis in early December, during the Pontiff’s historic visit to Turkey. The Pope had requested a more modest vehicle for his transporation in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and surprised the crowds when he arrived to public engagements in a modest vehicle with a civilian license plate.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47