Famous Ottoman boozer demoted from ‘evliya’ to ‘excellency’
Authorities in Istanbul silently demoted a well-known Ottoman boozer’s status from “evliya,” roughly meaning “saint,” to “his excellency” as his former title had been debated due to his heavy drinking habits.
During a restoration work on Bekri Mustafa’s sarcophagus in a shrine in the Eminönü district, some officials had put a sign on the wall which said, “Evliya Bekri Mustafa Hazretleri,” which means “Evliya Excellency Bekri Mustafa.”
People on social media wrote to the General Directorate for Foundations of the metropolis, saying that the man was not an “evliya” as he was known for his love for rakı, a Turkish alcoholic beverage.
Mustafa lived in Istanbul during Sultan IV Murad’s period at the beginning of the 17th century. He was known for his addiction to alcohol, which is why he was named “Bekri,” which means “drunkard” in Turkish.
Mustafa, who started drinking after a woman he loved married another man, did not stop drinking even when the sultan banned drinking across the Ottoman Empire and ordered the beheading of those found with alcohol.
He was buried in an area between Ottoman taverns due to his love for alcohol, which became a shrine in time.
On May 21, daily Hürriyet had ran a story with the headling: “How did Bekri Mustafa become a saint?”
The daily on Aug. 26 reported that officials of the General Directorate for Foundations replaced the sign of “saint” with that of “excellency.”
Mustafa was once again a hot topic on social media on Aug. 26, with some joking, saying, “Bekri is downgraded.”