Erdogan Promises Private Jet for Top Muslim Cleric

Mehmet Gormez

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will ask the government to provide a private jet to the country’s top Muslim cleric, ignoring criticism caused by his earlier promise to give the cleric a Mercedes.

Erdogan told NTV television late Tuesday that Mehmet Gormez, who heads a government body that regulates religious affairs, was a respected Islamic religious leader who deserved the same conveniences as the pope.

Erdogan said the pope “has a private jet, private cars and armored vehicles. That’s the situation at the Vatican and our religious leader will take scheduled flights?”

Last week Erdogan promised to allocate a Mercedes to Gormez after the cleric returned one following an uproar over the expenditure.

Erdogan has himself been criticized for moving into a 1,150-room palace.

In other news from Turkey: Erdogan, in a rage over the New York Times editorial criticizing him, has cancelled the honorary citizenship of a former NYT reporter.