Nurettin Kurt – ISTANBUL
Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), will soon start using the Mercedes S500 sedan, which is worth 1 million Turkish Liras ($435,000). Moreover, 14 Toyota cars were bought for the Diyanet’s general directors, as well as 16 minibuses to serve the organization.
The institution announced Dec. 13 that the purchases were made from the coffers of the state, not by using citizens’ private donations for the Diyanet Foundation.
“All the vehicles mentioned in the news report were purchased through tenders conducted by the State Supply Office under the permissions granted by the Law of The Central Government’s 2014 Budget and within the knowledge of the Finance Ministry,” the Diyanet said in a written statement.
Turkey’s top religious office also said that the cost of the luxury car allotted for Görmez is “much lower,” without releasing the actual figure in the official documents.
Görmez was featured in international media when he met Pope Francis, who paid a historic visit to Turkey late last month. It was reported that Turkish authorities had refused the pope’s request for “a humble car” in Ankara on the grounds of security. In Istanbul, however, the pontiff had surprised many journalists by arriving in a “humble car” with a civilian traffic license plate.