ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday inaugurated a mosque inside his controversial presidential palace and opened it to public in an apparent bid to deflect criticism over his lavish spending on the complex.
Erdogan’s 1,150-room palace, which was built at a cost of $615 million in the Bestepe district of Ankara, has been condemned by critics as an absurd extravagance that shows he is slipping further towards authoritarian rule.
Erdogan, who in recent weeks has appeared to respond to such criticism, dedicated the mosque to the people, naming it “Bestepe People’s Mosque” in the opening ceremony which coincided with Ramazan.
The mosque spans some 5,377 square meters on the grounds of the presidential complex and includes a prayer hall that can accommodate up to 3,000 worshippers.
With four 60 meter-high minarets, the mosque draws its architectural inspiration from Turkey’s Ottoman and Seljuk heritage, Erdogan said.
“I am praying to God that the prayers recited in this mosque will be accepted by Him,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, who rarely tweets, later wrote on Twitter, signing off with his initials RTE: “I hope that BestepePeople’s Mosque fosters our unity, solidarity and brotherhood”.
The Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), co-founded by Erdogan, lost its overall majority in June 7 parliamentary elections, in a blow to Erdogan’s ambitions to change the constitution to increase his powers