Governor Yerlikaya (C) proudly poses with Fanta bottles during the Coke-free iftar dinner.
The governor of Turkey’s western province of Tekirdağ has denied joining the boycott of what is arguably the most popular soda drink in the world, Coca-Cola, over Israel’s latest military campaign in Gaza, after he was photographed posing with bottles of Fanta. However, Governor Ali Yerlikaya has expressed support for the boycott campaign and said he knows that Fanta is also a product of the Coca-Cola Company.
Local daily Tekirdağ Taraf had claimed that Yerlikaya refused to drink Coca-Cola during an official fast-breaking iftar dinner, asking for Fanta to be served to guests instead.
But the governor has denied the claims via Twitter, saying he was just a guest at the iftar dinner.
“I didn’t even notice which brand of drink was on the table. I am careful when it comes to food and drinks. I more or less know which are the most common brands and their owners. But I don’t drink soda anyway,” he tweeted, while also expressing his full support to the boycott.
“Thanks to the person who wrote the story. He reminded us that those who are boycotting Coca-Cola should also do so for its byproducts,” Yerlikaya added.
Protests against Coca-Cola have been gaining momentum in Turkey recently, due to the company’s allegedly pro-Israel stance. However, upon international boycott calls, the Coca-Cola Company released a statement on July 21, denying that it supports any particular country or political stance and saying it is the third largest employer and fifth largest investor in Palestine.
Governor Yerlikaya’s had earlier retweeted daily Sabah columnist Engin Ardıç’s tweet criticizing those who were consuming Coke despite the Gaza operation. “Waiting for the Ababil birds holding Coca-Cola glasses in their hands is a buffoon’s attitude for the 1.5 billion Muslims [around the world],” Ardıç had tweeted.
The Ababil, a bird belonging to the swift family and referenced in the Quran, has symbolic value for Muslims. According to the legend, the Ababil protected Mecca against the Yemenite King Abraha’s army of elephants.
Last year, Turkey passed through a period of major soul-searching about its “national drink,” after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
criticized those who considered the anis-flavored local alcohol rakı to be Turkey’s national beverage. Erdoğan instead declared that the salty ayran, made with yogurt and water, was Turkey’s most genuine national drink, in comments that came as Parliament was preparing new legislation restricting the sale and promotion of alcoholic beverages.