‘Replica Mecca’ in Istanbul raises eyebrows
Hürriyet photosA district mayor in Istanbul from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has raised some eyebrows by constructing the replicas of Islam’s holiest places and objects, yet the building idea seems to have spread elsewhere.
The Üsküdar municipality in the Asian side of Istanbul inaugurated the “Village of the Age of Happiness” on April 19. The Age of Happiness is an Islamic term that refers to the time of Prophet Mohammad, whose birthday according to the Western calendar is currently been celebrated with public events.
The venue includes replicas of the Kaaba, Prophet Mohammad’s house, the Hira cave, the Sevr cave, the Muallaq Stone, the Zamzam well and an elephant statue.
“In these days that we say ‘Happy birthday’ to our master, we wanted to experience the feeling of Kaaba in our city,” Mayor Hilmi Türkmen said, according to semi-official Anadolu Agency.
The venue, which will open to public visits for a week, triggered an avalance of criticism on social media, not only from secular opposition, but also from some conservative voices, too.
Meanwhile, a protester who attempted to make “Hajj pilgrimage” at the replica Mecca was detained on April 20.
The Tuzla Municipality’s “Hijra Walking Track” features newer, and apparently lower budget, replicas of the Kaaba, the Sevr cave and some novelties such as the lookalikes of two hills in the real-word Mecca, as well as a traffic sign that reads the distance to Madina right next to a cardboard camel.
Private Cihan news agency reported on April 21 that the Tuzla municipality removed several decorations from the walking track after Turkish media reports about the inauguration stirred a fresh controversy.