A lavish reception held at the presidential palace has drawn outrage on social media, with thousands of users slamming the Turkish government for having a feast when poverty is on the rise across the country.
The footage of the reception showed Turkish and Iraqi officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, having dinner accompanied by live music.
While the person who recorded the footage remains unknown, it prompted outrage as soon as it became widely shared on social media. Thousands drew attention to the tables filled with luxurious food, as well as the officials' disregard for COVID-19 measures.
Unemployment and poverty have been steadily increasing in Turkey, with reports of people committing suicide due to economic hardships and images of people searching for food from dumpsters on the streets becoming more frequent.
The government, however, has been turning a blind eye to the people's economic woes, with a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy going as far as to say that eating dry bread is suffice to say that there is no poverty and hunger.
It also brought Erdoğan's previous remarks on the issue to mind. In October, Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. The president's words evoked the infamous quote of French ruler Marie-Antoinette von Österreich-Lothringen, who said that her people should eat cake if they can't find bread.
Also in October, the president said that a Muslim's duty is to be patient in the face of poverty.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) slammed the reception held for the Iraqi PM, with CHP deputy leader Ali Öztunç saying that all the people experiencing economic hardships must watch the footage of the feast.
"The people are in need of bread, but a feast is going on in the palace," Öztunç tweeted on Dec. 19.
TBMM’de Saray sofrası ve şatafatını anlattığım günün akşamında Saray’da ki eğlence ve şatafat... Ama sanatçı bölümünü eksik söylemişim. Millet kuru ekmeğe muhtaç sarayda ise zevki sefa...— Ali Öztunç (@Ali_Oztunc) December 19, 2020
Yiyin efendiler yiyin... pic.twitter.com/oKuEtwFtkE
Social media users also likened the incident to the Ottoman Empire's "Tulip Era," the period between 1718 and 1730 that has become a term to describe mindless joy and pleasure.