Remarks made last year by the former Turkish minister of education about a much disputed Ottoman sultan went viral after the Turkish president Erdoğan made some claims about the sultan during a speech.
Speaking at a youth rally of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday, Erdoğan, who is known to have a deep admiration for the Ottoman sultan Abdülhamit, made sharp comments on a criticism directed at the sultan by one of the opposition leaders. He said:
“Insulting Sultan Abdülhamit, who ruled the Ottoman Empire, a sick giant according to some, for 33 years without losing a single inch of soil, is preposterous. I believe that this nation will give the necessary answer to these people in the 2023 elections.”
However, just over a year ago in February 2021, Hüseyin Çelik, the former minister of education and one of the most influential representatives of the AKP, said:
“There are certain myths about Sultan Abdülhamit. They say that he never lost even an inch of soil, that he never led the Ottoman state into debt, that he did not let Zionism gain ground in Palestine. What I’m saying does not have anything to do with what some Ahmet or Mehmet [Tom, Dick or Harry] wrote. I’m telling you, based on what I have seen personally in archive documents, that all of these myths are just that: myths.”
“The Ottoman soil lost during Sultan Abdülhamit’s reign was more than twice the size of the current Turkish Republic.”