The controversy surrounding Minister of Culture and Tourism Atilla Koc's demand to have the holy Islamic relic "Sakal-i Serif," a blown glass case holding hairs from the beard of Mohammed, brought to him while he was at a layover at Ataturk Airport, continues. With criticism reigning down on Minister Koc for what many perceive as disrespect to a relic held to be most holy by many, another angle to the story involving an unusual request from the Jordanian government has begun to emerge from the Culture Ministry.
Turks prefer Sakal-i Serif to be under control of Jordanian religious ministry
Jordan has reportedly requested that the Sakal-i Serif be allowed to tour their country in honor of Ramazan, a request which was made directly to the Turkish government. In the wake of this request, Turkish governmental officials began to work out a way to make the Jordanian request possible, determining in the end that the Sakal-i Serif would be better put in the hands of the Jordanian Ministry of Religious Affairs rather than the museum system. It was apparently in order to inspect the current status of the Sakal-i Serif and the box which contains it that Minister of Culture Koc requested the relic be brought to him at Ataturk Airport.
In response to some of the reaction to his request, Minister Koc said yesterday: "...They brought it to the airport, I saw it, and it was brought back. That's it. Where the disrespect is in this, I am not able to understand. Is it even possible that I could have disrespect for the Sakal-i Serif? Doesn't the Sakal-i Serif go from mosque to mosque anyway so that Muslims can see it? Am I not a Muslim? Anyway, as it turns out, I am the first person in history to ever do this. I guess in that way I go down in history."