Dec 20 2017

Erdoğan slams UAE for Fakhri Pasha remarks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted angrily to a retweet from the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister that accused Ottoman Turkey and the head of state’s ancestors of stealing relics from the holy city of Medina in present-day Saudi Arabia.

Turkey and the UAE are at odds over Ankara’s support for Qatar and the deposed Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan retweeted a post from Twitter user @ali11iraq, which said “In 1916 Turkish Fakhri Pasha committed a crime against the people of the Prophet’s city (Medina) ... The Turks also stole most of the manuscripts of the Mahmudiyah Library in the city and sent it to Turkey. These are Erdoğan’s ancestors and their history with Arab Muslims.”

Ibrahim Kalın, Turkey’s presidential spokesman, responded on Twitter, saying the tweet was a “propaganda lie”. Fahreddin Pasha, as he is known in Turkey, the Ottoman army commander and governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919, had “bravely defended Medina against the British plans,” Kalın said.

Istanbul’s Topkapı Museum, a former Ottoman palace, contains a number of Muslim holy relics, including the mantle of the prophet Muhammad, hair from his beard, his footprints, letters, bow and sword.

The museum says the holy relics were sent to Istanbul “for greater protection” during attacks by Wahhabi tribesmen in the 18th and 19th centuries and for the same reason during the 1914-18 World War One.

Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT quoted Erdoğan as saying the “Ottoman Empire protected the artefacts at Istanbul’s Topkapı Museum today, and Fahreddin Pasha ruled Medina fairly.”

But in a speech to village heads at the presidential palace, Erdoğan was more blunt in addressing the UAE foreign minister.

“While Fahreddin Pasha was defending Medina, where were your forefathers?”