“We Turks are a nation that is hungry for its history,” Arsenal football star Mesut Özil said in an Instagram post that congratulates Bülent İnal, the actor who plays Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit II in a popular TV drama, which happens to be President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favorite.
Özil, who quit the German national team citing discrimination last summer, is a fan of state broadcaster TRT’s “Payitaht Abdülhamit,” widely considered a propaganda tool for Erdoğan’s government.
The German-Turkish star posted a video of actor İnal, who thanked Özil for supporting the show on social media and invited him to the set of the TV series.
“I thank you and your crew for this successful production. We Turks are a nation that is hungry for its history,” Özil said in response to İnal’s video, implying that Turkish history is not well told.
After TRT started to broadcast such dramas glorifying the Ottoman era, in line with Erdoğan’s neo-Ottoman vision of politics, many conservative pundits argued that previous administrations were intentionally depicting the Ottomans as evil to justify the Republican era.
In May Özil sparked a controversy in Germany when he had a photo taken with President Erdoğan in London along with İlkay Gündoğan, another German national player.
The photo drew criticism from German nationalists, who asked Özil to decide if he was a Turk or a German.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said the photo might have caused misunderstandings since they were German national football team players and role models for German youth.
“The treatment I have received from the [German Football Association] and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team jersey. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten,” Özil tweeted on June 23, adding that he had quit the national team.