The Turkey Diyanet Foundation (TDV), an organization linked to the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), will have spent more than $70 million for the construction of mosques around the world upon their completion, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the TVD has already spent TL 353.5 million ($40.8 million) to build mosques in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Albania, Djibouti and Kyrgyzstan, and will have spent 26 million euros ($30.4 million) for the construction of a mosque in Russia when completed.
Birgün also made reference to the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, a Turkish-funded complex containing culture centers and one of the largest mosques in the US, the only one in the country with two minarets.
The complex, which was built with funds from the Diyanet and the TVD and inaugurated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in April 2016, cost $100 million, the report said.
Erdoğan on Monday also inaugurated the “Türkevi” (Turkish House) in New York City, a 36-story high rise that cost Turkey $291.2 million to build, amid criticism that the money could have been put to better use, especially at a time when university students in Turkey are protesting high dormitory and rental prices.
A number of social media users shared photos of the Türkevi under the hashtag #barınamıyoruz (We can’t shelter) in reference to a group of university students who call themselves the “We Can’t Shelter” movement and are conducting vigils in which they sleep outdoors so as to protest high dormitory and rental prices.
Some users argued that the $291.2 million spent on the construction of the high rise would have been enough to build student dormitories in Turkey to house 35,000 students.
Diyanet-affiliated mosques and foundations around the world have been accused of acting as Erdoğan’s propaganda tools and involvement in spying on his critics. Through its foundation, Diyanet provides funding and appoints imams, who are public servants on the government payroll, to the overseas mosques.