Bars in touristic resort handed over to Turkey's top religious body
Turan Yılmaz ANKARA / Hürriyet
Some 22 establishments in Alaçatı, including restaurants and bars, have been handed over to the Diyanet.
An entertainment area in one of Turkey’s most popular touristic summer towns on the Aegean coast will be now run by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
Some 22 establishments, including restaurants and bars in Alaçatı, previously owned by İzmir Governor’s Office, have been handed over to the Diyanet by an internal commission.
The move has caused outcry, with local officials denouncing an alleged attempt to “impose a certain lifestyle” and warning the move threatened tourism in the town.
The Çeşme municipality, which Alaçatı is a part of, stated according to common practice, shops should be handed over to the local authorities when requested.
“But giving properties to the Diyanet instead of the Çeşme municipality is a very ironic situation. We will take legal action on the issue,” said Mayor Muhittin Dalgıç, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Some 14 shops in the area sell alcohol and many remain open until the late hours of the night during the summer. Properties turned over to the Diyanet also include the Pazar Yeri Mosque, which was converted into a church-mosque after its restoration and is used by the two religious communities.
'Similar practices in many provinces'
CHP Deputy Head Veli Ağbaba accusing the government of seeking to harm tourism in Alaçatı.
“What the government does is spoliation against its own citizens. Those who are aiming for only one type of people in Turkey are imposing their own way of living,” said Ağbaba, claiming that in İzmir province alone – a CHP stronghold - some $4.5 million worth of properties have been "usurped" from the municipality.
“The total of amount of the properties that have been usurped from our municipalities is over $10 million. We are now starting legal action regarding all of this. We will not only open lawsuits, we will file complaints against the public servants and governors responsible for these practices,” he said.
Besides Alaçatı, Ağbaba said beaches in the southern resort towns of Ölüdeniz and Dalyan had been given to private companies instead of municipalities.
“Aydın and Denizli are two neighboring cities. In Aydın, where the municipality also belongs to us, there are all kinds of pressures and the properties are not handed over. Meanwhile, in Denizli where the municipality belongs to the AKP, the properties are given to the municipality,” he said.