Open letter to Mrs. Emine Erdogan
Good day, Mrs.Emine Erdoğan.
The idea of writing to you came to us as you claim “to live a ‘humble and modest’ life with strict Muslim values, whiling away the hours in palace kitchen fermenting apples and turning them into vinegar.”. We got the impression that you are poorly informed about the lifestyle of the Turkish people. As a result, you also misinform the German public. “Suggested that the Turkish population follow Mrs.Emine Erdoğan lead in drinking white tea from the Rize region of Turkey.” “Like most Turkish people” – is not that exaggerated? While white tea is readily available what they failed to mention is the tea Mrs.Emine Erdoğan has served at the Palace costs up to £1,500 for a kilo..
During a visit last October to Brussels you have had your bodyguards seal off the entrance to a shopping mall while visiting the Longchamps store where you spent 1500 Euros. Other shoppers were prevented from entering the mall in Louise Avenue while Mrs.Emine Erdoğan walked round the store, which sells expensive handbags and luggage. Earlier this year Emine said Ottoman era harems were ‘inspirational’ educational establishments.The comment provoked a backlash but not as much as the following day when her husband caused outrage in a speech to mark International Women’s Day, when her husband said a woman was ‘above all a mother’. But criticism of the family Erdoğan is rare as those who speak out are likely to end up in jail.
While the Turkish population have got used to Erdogan’s family extravagance with their palace, the source of their wealth amassed £139million remains something of a mystery. According to Forbes magazine your husband topped the list of the highest paid political figure with his earnings put at £43.2m. With Erdogan now strengthening his grip on the country after the botched coup conditions for those on the poverty line are unlikely to improve. Two out of every three children in Turkey live in poverty by European Union standards, according to a report prepared by Bahcesehir University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research.
Your husband leads Southern Europe countries as well as other less-developed European countries such as Hungary and Romania in child poverty with 63 per cent of children aged under 15 in living in poverty. In Romania, which has the closest rate to Turkey, this rate is 36 percent, while in Greece it is 16.5 percent and in Italy it is 12.4 percent. Of the 20 million people living in rural Turkey more than two million fall below the poverty line and live on less than £3 a day. Across the country the average annual wage is just over £5,000 compared to £21,000 in the UK.
About your “humble house”. Covering an area of 1.6sq miles the mega palace has cost more than £500m to build with no expense spared on its fixture and fittings. From silk wallpaper costing as much as £2,000 a roll to £36,000 for each pair of double doors that are needed for the hundreds of rooms. One estimate has the bill for more than 400 extra large double doors that measure 3.2m high by 2m wide at over £5m. Add in the 450 single doors needed and the final bill for doors has been put at over £26m. In keeping with the no expense spared build even carpeting for the 366,000 sq ft palace is more than £7m. This dwelling of the “bottom million” have diligently overlooked, so extravagant that it would have made Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, known for his love of gold and jewel encrusted fittings, blush. And architecture of the palace looks like more like a Chinese railway station than anything from the former Ottoman empire.
The building, known as the White Palace, cost more than twice the original estimate but the family Erdogan has dismissed criticism by saying it boosts Turkey’s profile in the world. When asked why they wanted a new Palace they said “cockroaches in his old office when he was Prime Minister” meant it was uninhabitable. When construction began your husband claimed he would be using all ‘natural’ materials from Turkey. But opponents who have seen the architectural plans say the roof comes from Germany while green marble used in guest rooms was purchased from India. Other materials used in the construction come from the UK, France and Italy. Even the trees planted in the extensive grounds were from Italy and Holland. Your husband sees the Palace as reward for leading the country to prosperity – but others say it shows his increasing authoritarianism.
During the failed coup F-16 jets bombed the Palace, but the extent of any damage is not yet known. As well as being the home for Erdogan, the Palace is also a command and control center. Like the White House in the US it includes a situation room and bunkers able to withstand a biological, chemical and nuclear attack. Your husband extravagance appears to extend to you Mrs.Emine who while running the Presidential Palace professes to lead a frugal life.
Some 38 percent of children in Turkey lived in households suffering from severe material deprivation in 2016, an increase of 1.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to a report from the Bahçeşehir University Center for Economic and Social Research. The Istanbul-based BETAM report, published on April 20, revealed that 7.51 million children aged between 0 and 15 suffered from the effects of material deprivation in Turkey in 2016, an increase of 300,000 compared to 2015. But your husband has ordered two new palaces all so you can live a ‘humble and modest’ life with strict Muslim values, whiling away the hours in palace kitchen fermenting apples and turning them into vinegar.
You say that harems – groups of wives, servants and female relatives living in a secluded area of an Ottoman Sultan’s household – were “a school for members of the Ottoman dynasty and an educational establishment preparing women for life”. But violence against women in Turkey – often involving wives killed by their husbands – has risen sharply in recent years and activists say nowhere near enough action has been taken to tackle the problem. Is this your “educational establishment preparing women for life”? Let women define themselves. Give them the breathing room to be more than just their womb. Have higher expectations of them rather than the usage of their reproductive system. Allow them to chase their dreams and passions without having to worry about checking a to-do list of ideal womanhood. Tell yourself and your two daughters that a woman is, above all, a human being. Then watch the world become a better place.
We did not mean to offend you. But we also do not want the German public being offended by contributions like yours by the visit of your husband to Germany.
Ulrike Meinhof Commando.