Many social media users in Turkey have approached with skepticism photos that made their way to media outlets on Sunday showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shopping at an İstanbul supermarket like an ordinary citizen.
In the photos Erdoğan is seen with a shopping cart getting some chocolate and biscuits produced by the pro-government Torku food and beverage company. Erdoğan’s visit to the store came shortly after he left his residence in the Üsküdar neighborhood of İstanbul.
Many said the visit of Erdoğan, who has a luxury palace in the Turkish capital of Ankara, to the supermarket was arranged as he wants to show people how he is humble and in touch with ordinary people.
Video footage from the supermarket visit during which a photojournalist from the state-run Anadolu news agency asked other customers, “Can you please let me take his [Erdoğan’s] photo alone?” also gave rise to claims that Erdoğan was in the supermarket for show.
There were also others who claimed that Erdoğan was there to promote Torku products, saying the government’s financial links to the company should be investigated.
Erdoğan has drawn heavy criticism for his use of state money on luxurious official cars and a huge palace in Ankara. Erdoğan’s presidential complex was at the center of criticism when it was constructed due to its large budget, expensive interiors, a thousand plus rooms and luxurious design as well as the felling of trees in its neighborhood.
When Erdoğan moved into the palace in November 2014, more than TL 1.7 billion had been spent on it, twice the original estimate.