ISTANBUL – "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?"
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his office will provide a Mercedes to the country's top Muslim cleric, who returned one following an uproar over his extravagance.
Mehmet Gormez, head of the government body that regulates religious affairs, returned his Mercedes after news media reported that his office had spent 1 million Turkish lira ($384,000) on the new car.
Late Thursday, Erdogan said he would allocate a Mercedes to Gormez: "In response to the rudeness displayed against our head of Religious Affairs, we said, 'let's make a gesture.'"
Erdogan has himself been criticized for moving into a 1,150-room palace that opponents say destroyed forest land and was constructed despite a court injunction.