Turkish shopkeepers refuse to ‘give blessing’ to Erdoğan

TurkishPresident Tayyip Erdoğan has received backlash for his comments, asking for blessing from “anybody who fell into troubles” in a speech he gave after Eid prayers on Friday.

“We are working to give all kinds of support for some shopkeepers who were affected by the restrictions and our tourism sector,” Erdoğan had said. “If any of our people, small business owners, or workers have fallen into troubles, we ask them to give their blessing to us.”

At the time, Turkish social media was abuzz with the hashtag, “#HelalEtmiyoruz”, literally meaning “We don’t make (our right) halal (to you)”, a phrase used to give one’s blessing, with its roots in Islam.

“How can we make halal?” asked İsa Güven, president of a union of Turkish coffee house owners, in a video message. “We are hungry. We have fallen to ruin in 14 months, Mr President!”

“These shopkeepers and craftsmen voted for you for 19 years, but unfortunately you couldn’t take care of them for 14 months,” Güven said. “We do not make our right halal to you.”

Coffee houses, popular among Turkish men for socialising in virtually every neighbourhood, have received a total of 1,000 lira ($ 118) in government support, and another 500 lira in rental aid throughout the pandemic, opposition daily Sözcü cited Güven as saying.

“We had a melancholy Eid,” Güven said, adding that they were unable to celebrate the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan due to economic strife.

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