ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — In a calculated bid to irritate the United Arab Emirates, Turkey on Tuesday renamed the street on which the country’s embassy stands after an Ottoman military commander accused by an Emirati minister of pillaging the holy city of Medina.
Television images showed municipal workers in the capital, Ankara, replacing a sign for 613th Street with one marked Fahreddin Pasha Road. The adjacent main street was renamed Defender of Medina Street.
The move came a month after Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by retweeting a Twitter post that accused Fahreddin — the governor of Medina between 1916 and 1919 — of mistreating Arabs and stealing the holy city’s manuscripts. The tweet also described Fahreddin’s forces in Medina as Erdogan’s ancestors.
Erdogan hit back at al Nahyan, accusing the UAE of being spoilt by “oil and money.” He defended Fahreddin Pasha as a Muslim who protected the holy city and its treasures from British forces.
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“Where were your ancestors at the time?” he asked.
The squabble comes at a time where ties with the UAE were already strained after Turkey sided with Qatar in a diplomatic dispute with the UAE and other Gulf nations over Qatar’s alleged support to extremists and ties to Iran.
“As of now, the embassy’s address will feature on official correspondence as Defender of Medina Street, Fahreddin Pasha Road,” Mustafa Tuna, the mayor of Ankara, tweeted after the name change. “May it be beneficial.”
In similar moves in the past, Iran named a Tehran street where the British Embassy is situated after IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.
In 2008, Berlin’s left-leaning taz newspaper successfully led a grassroots movement to rename a street outside its headquarters after a student activist who had advocated socialist reforms of state institutions. The street also houses the headquarters of conservative publisher Axel Springer, whose top-selling Bild newspaper had led a campaign against the student.
Associated Press Writers David Rising in Belin and Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed.