Duvar English 

A young couple celebrating “baby Mevlit,” a typical Islamic prayer ceremony organized after the baby’s birth – in other words, a baby blessing ceremony – has stirred social media in Turkey, with many people criticizing the luxurious celebration organized in Istanbul’s Ihlamur Pavilion (“Ihlamur Kasrı” in Turkish).  

Local media reported the identity of the baby’s mother as Büşra Nur Çalar and the father as Ahmet Emin Söylemez, a former counsellor to the Health Ministry from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The couple reportedly got married in 2017, with former Health Minister Recep Akdağ serving as a marriage witness.  

Media outlets also said that Söylemez’s father was Uğur Süleyman Söylemez, one of the victims of the Turkish Mavi aid ship, which was attacked by the Israeli army in 2010 while it was traveling as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in an effort to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. 

This is not the first time that Büşra Nur Çalar has stirred the social media. She had also previously posted images of her baby’s room, again at the time receiving criticism due the luxurious nature of the room. Referred to as “Instagram phenomenon” and “YouTuber” by Turkish media, the latest video shows Çalar’s baby wearing a solitaire ring during the blessing ceremony.  

Yusuf Kaplan, a columnist at the pro-government Islamist Yeni Şafak newspaper, was one of the people who took his criticism of the luxurious ceremony to Twitter.  

“Vanity does not show nobleness, but instead misery. Everything has a medicine but rottenness does not. This is the protestanization of Islam: It becoming soulless, it being emptied out,” wrote Kaplan on Nov. 17, along with a hashtag of #berra, referring to the baby’s name.  

Other than Kaplan, many other people took the issue to Twitter. One user wrote: “In a country where people are committing suicides collectively out of hunger, I am not from the religion of ‘Muslims’ who celebrate pompous baby mevlids in palaces.” The relevant Twitter user was referring to the recent deaths of three separate families, with reports suggesting to financial difficulties as the reason of suicides.  

Another Twitter user shared a picture of the young couple’s baby wearing the relevant solitaire ring and next to it, a garbage collector looking for recyclable waste at a garbage can. “On one hand, those conducting baby mevlid in Ihlamur Pavilion, and on the other hand, those earning daily bread from garbage this morning in Samsun’s Canik district,” wrote the relevant Twitter user.  

A user on Ekşisözlük, a popular website in Turkey, expressed their criticism against the video with the following entry: “This should not be the ummah [Islamic community] of the Prophet [Muhammad], who had struggled in a 5-square-meter for a period of three years.”