What 64 different verses command Muslims
It was one of the days of euphoria that Turkey’s Islamists were in a frenzy to claim new absurdities dancing around the theme “Muslims discovered…” that this column’s headline was “Muslims discovered Mercedes!” (Dec. 17, 2014).
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued that the American continent was discovered by Muslim sailors some 300 years before Christopher Columbus. Science and Technology Minister Fikri Işık claimed that Muslim scientists working around 1,200 years ago (some 700-800 years before Galileo Galilei) were the first to determine that the Earth is a sphere.
“Muslim discovered Mercedes!” was an inspiration by press reports that said the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet in Turkish) had acquired a $400,000 luxury Mercedes S500 for its president, Professor Mehmet Görmez. The Diyanet denied the story and said the price was lower than claimed but avoided saying how much lower. Months later, in an emotional outburst, Professor Görmez, told the press that he had returned the car without even having used it once. He said he hoped his behavior would set a precedent.
Wrong, said Mr. Erdoğan. Mr. Görmez (and his office) deserves the finest of all cars, the president argued. So many Turks could now afford such cars, he added, probably not calculating that the average Turk, with his $10,000 annual income, would have to work 40 years to buy the same car. Then the president priced the car at around 100,000 euros – well, I would not mind ordering half a dozen brand new S500s if Mr. Erdoğan offered each at 100,000 euros.
The president has been determined to set the opposite precedent. He promised to give one of his armored Mercedes cars to Professor Görmez. And finally, he promised to give one of the private jets in the government’s “aircraft pool” to the Diyanet’s president so that the top cleric would not have to fly first class or business. Ironically, an entry in this column’s “Headlines from the centennial” series (March 20, 2015) was:
“The president of [Diyanet], Professor Ahmet Görür, denied that he had bought an $81 million private jet with taxpayers’ money. ‘That’s a shameless smear campaign,’ he said. ‘The aircraft is modest and it cost a mere $77 million.’ He said he would sue the press for slander.”
How predictable Turkey can be.
The more Mr. Erdoğan stubbornly defends that a top Muslim cleric deserves the finest worldly possessions, the less convincing he looks. Such as his claim during a televised interview that the pope (the Vatican) has private jets and armored cars in his service – a claim which the Vatican immediately denied. If Mr. Erdoğan thinks that papal practices should set the precedent, he should give Professor Görmez a plain Ford Focus for trips in Ankara and a 1984 Renault 4 which the Muslim cleric would drive himself.
Even more absurdly, Mr. Erdoğan claimed that Professor Görmez is not only Turkey’s religious leader, but “he is an esteemed religious leader of this region and the Islamic world.” Now Mr. Erdoğan is portraying a Turkish civil servant as a semi-caliph of the Islamic world, or a Muslim pope. No doubt, the president has a confused mind: Which other Muslim countries in the world, really, view Professor Görmez as their religious leader? To reformulate the question in a more realistic way: How many Muslims in the world know Professor Görmez’s name? How many Turks remember the name of Professor Görmez’s predecessor?
Islamists are often programmed to fabricate their own narrative of Islam and its practices – practices not derived from Islam’s holy book. Therefore, this will be a futile reminder. Still, here goes – esteemed presidents of the country and of Diyanet: You may or may not be aware, you may or may not wish to be reminded of facts you selectively dislike, but there is not a single mention of Jerusalem (or any other city) in the Quran, whereas the holy book strongly commands its worshippers to follow the path of modesty in 64 different verses.
Now enjoy your fancy cars and aircraft.