Crossing swords

Scimitar-wielding Turkish governor vows to conquer Jerusalem

Necati Senturk retires due to age days after impassioned speech from office balcony; says ‘going out at the peak is most auspicious’

A Turkish regional governor last weekend declared while wielding a double-bladed scimitar above his head that Turkey’s forces would soon march into Jerusalem and other cities in the Middle East.

Necati Senturk, the government-appointed governor of the Kirsehir province, raised eyebrows with a speech from the balcony of the governor’s office as Turkish troops were poised to take the Syrian city of Afrin from Kurdish militia.

“God willing, we will take Afrin. We will take Manbij,” he said in videos posted on Turkish news websites, referring to another Kurdish-held city in Syria.

Waving a sword known locally as a zulfiqar above his head with one hand and holding a megaphone in another, he added: “We will also go to Mosul, and we will go to Jerusalem!… God is Greatest!”

The Turkish sultans controlled both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the holy city of Jerusalem for long periods during the Ottoman Empire.

The zulfiqar is a double bladed scimitar of the kind used by Islamic warriors in the early conquests. Such a sword is said to have been given by the prophet Mohammed to his son-in-law the prophet Ali.

On Thursday, several days after he made the speech and a day after it began circulating in the media, reports said Senturk had gone into retirement.

It was not immediately clear to what extent his retirement on age grounds had been pre-planned or forced by his incendiary speech.

But Senturk, Kirsehir governor for the last three and a half years, said he was unrepentant.

“In terms of fatherland and language, I have no fear,” he was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency.

“All good things must come to an end. When a person is at the top, they must know how to step down.

“And going out at the peak is most auspicious.”

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