Erdoğan Opens Palace Mosque, Highlights Quranic Verse On ‘patience’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday inaugurated a mosque inside his controversial presidential palace and opened it to the public in an apparent bid to deflect criticism over his lavish spending on the complex.
The mosque spans some 5,377 square meters (57,000 feet) on the grounds of the presidential complex and includes a prayer hall that can accomodate up to 3,000 worshippers.
With four 60 meter-high (200 feet) minarets, the mosque draws its architectural inspiration from Turkey’s Ottoman and Seljuk heritage, Erdoğan said.
“I am praying to God that the prayers recited in this mosque will be accepted by Him,” Erdoğan said.
Erdogan, who rarely tweets, later wrote on Twitter, signing off with his initials RTE: “I hope that Bestepe People’s Mosque fosters our unity, solidarity and brotherhood.”
The Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), co-founded by Erdoğan, lost its overall majority in June 7 parliamentary elections, in a blow to Erdoğan’s ambitions to change the constitution to increase his powers.
The palace has been the subject of a sometimes farcical dispute in the run-up to the elections between Erdoğan and the main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroğlu, who accused him of having golden toilet seats there.
Erdoğan denied the claims, invited Kilicdaroğlu to visit the palace to find the rumoured toilets and filed a lawsuit against him, seeking compensation for slander.
Erdğgan defends the palace by saying that it belongs to the people and is a worthy symbol of the new Turkey he is trying to build.
He once justified the construction by saying that the presence of cockroaches in his old offices when he was prime minister were the reason why he needed a vast new presidential palace.
Turkish officials recently launched a virtual tour of the palace and said that some parts of it such as a congress hall and one of Turkey’s biggest libraries with over 5 million books, which is under construction, will also be open to the public.