Istanbul mayor Imamoğlu slammed for fine dining during snow crisis

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Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu received widespread criticism on social media on Tuesday night after photos of him meeting British Ambassador Dominic Chilcott at a restaurant for dinner emerged as the city grappled with heavy snowfall that paralyzed life in the city.

After his photos surfaced on Twitter, users took to the platform to vent their frustration as “#imamoğluistifa” (“Imamoğlu, quit” in Turkish) started trending.

The mayor then issued a statement on social media, saying that “he was at the restaurant for an hour ‘during his break’.

“The snowfall affected the whole country negatively, not just Istanbul. The Ankara-Istanbul highway has been closed,” he said.

“In the new airport and the connecting roads, the problems persist. But the media only talk about Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB),” he said.

“The upheaval of the loss of Istanbul reached such a level that there is talk of my hour-long dinner break, even when I led the battle against the snow both on the pitch and from the Coordination Center Disasters (AKOM) for 19 straight hours,” he said, referring to the 2019 local elections he won to become Istanbul’s first mayor from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) after decades.

“We have worked in coordination with our state and district municipalities thus far and will continue to do so.”

Speaking to the GDH news site, the restaurant owner said the dinner reservation was made 25 days ago and confirmed the mayor stayed there for an hour, even though there was conflicting information.

Yeni Şafak reporter Burak Doğan shared security camera footage, saying Imamoğlu stayed there for three hours.

In early 2020, the mayor also came under fire for his ski vacation after visiting the earthquake-hit province of Elazığ.

Imamoğlu was not the only BWI official to be criticized on social media for perceived negligence as the city battled a severe snowstorm.

It was also revealed that BWI spokesperson Murat Ongun is in Geneva, Switzerland for a vacation during the crisis.

Speaking to journalist Cüneyt Özdemir, Ongun confirmed he was abroad and said sharing the fact that he was outside Turkey was a violation of his privacy.

Özdemir shared Ongun’s remarks in tweets. According to him, Ongun said, “Following developments in Istanbul abroad is not difficult at all.”

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