Days after old photos of the wife of Turkish president carrying a luxury French handbag had reappeared on social media, Turkish media her come to her defence to claim that she was carrying a fake bag. Emine Erdoğan had to face massive criticising for sporting a French product when her husband Erdoğan had called for boycott of all French proudcts.
France has been at the target of the Muslim world of late since French President Emmanuel Macron refused to condemn the caricature of Prophet Mohammad and called out radical Islamist ideology. Turkey has been leading the Muslim world in condemning France and the French President Macron. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had called on Muslims to boycott French products in opposition to France’s tough stance on radical Islam. However, no one except Pakistanis took his call for the boycott of French products seriously, as his own wife, the Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan was spotted carrying an expensive luxurious $50,000 French-made handbag.
Hermes is a high fashion luxury goods manufacturer based in France. The Hermès Kelly bag spotted with the Turkish first lady is made from exotic alligator skin, and is fitted with gold hardware.
After the photograph of Emine Erdoğan carrying a $50000 Hermès bag re-appeared, people began to call out Turkish First Lady on social media for carrying French-made handbag despite the Turkish President’s call for a boycott of French products. The photo had originally earlier appeared a few months ago. The first lade was criticised for carrying such an expensive bag last year also.
Erdogan – “I call upon Turks to boycott French products”— Tull McAdoo (@Ballymagash_T) October 26, 2020
Here’s his wife with a €50,000 French made Hermes bag. pic.twitter.com/9U1PqE12PL
People questioned whether Erdoğan’s wife would be giving up her designer bags that cost more than an average Turkish citizen’s annual income.
If Turkey is going to be boycotting French products, is Erdogan’s wife going to give up the designer bags that cost more than the average Turkish citizen makes in a year, or do those not count? pic.twitter.com/MCq5hVPYHH— Meghan Bodette (@_____mjb) October 26, 2020
Some said that the boycott of French products was ‘nice’ as long as it did not affect the high-end lifestyle of the Presidency.
How about 🇹🇷 First Lady, Mrs Emine Erdogan’s bag, a Hermes bag, worth about $50.000 by the way? Guess it’s nice to boycott 🇨🇵 products as long as it doesn’t affect the Presidency’s high-end lifestyle https://t.co/oQ1omwRivM— Ploutarhos Pantelides 🇨🇵🇨🇾🇪🇺 (@PloutarhosP) October 26, 2020
Taking a dig at the Turkish First Lady, some social media users said the perhaps she thought that buying such an expensive bag was an investment.
#Erdogan/S.O.B. – The Turkey’s First Lady #Emine Erdoğan…handling #Hermès Handbag, possibly she heard that buying such a bag is an investment…! pic.twitter.com/EHReAlWibY— Achill Christodoulou (@achilleaschrist) October 28, 2020
Opposition leader of Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu suggested her to burn her $50,000 French-made bag as part of the boycott against France.
Following the backlash on social media, a Turkish journalist Hande Firat claimed that she never spent such huge amounts on her bags and that she was carrying a fake version of the original Hermès bag. In an article published on Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, the journalist known as govt propagandist said that the first lady only purchases imitation products of luxury brands. Quoting sources in the first family, Hande Firat said, “She takes care not to use original branded bags. Instead of originals, she buys fake or imitations.”
However, this claim by the pro-govt journalist seems questionable, as the Turkish president is known live a lavish life. The first family lives in the newly built presidential palace which has 1150 rooms. It is ironical that to avoid embarrassment, the Turkish govt is having to call a luxury expensive bag as a fake.
Emine Erdogan is known to have a preference for luxury products, and the Turkish journalists are forbidden from talking about it. When the photo first appeared in June this year, journalist Ender İmrek was booked by police for criticising the first lady. The journalist was accused of insulting the President’s wife. He was accused of “not attributing nice qualities to her”, which means not praising the first lady was also deemed a crime.
Freedom of Press in Turkey
According to reports, Turkey is one of the worst-ranked countries for media freedom in the world and it also has the most jailed journalists in the world. Around 90 per cent of media are reportedly under government control in the country. The country was ranked 157th out of 180 countries by Reporters Without Borders on World Press Freedom Index 2019 for having highest number of journalists in jail.