Azmin's Visit To Hagia Sophia During Turkey Trip Sparks Confusion & Outrage Among Netizens

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali is currently in Europe to enhance bilateral trade and showcase that Malaysia is a great investment destination.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today & Azmin Ali (Facebook)

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A photo showing Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali visiting a tourist destination in Turkey has sparked confusion and outrage among Malaysians

The photo was uploaded to Instagram by an account named Turkey Local Tour Guides.

According to Free Malaysia Today, the photo was uploaded on 12 July with a caption that suggested Azmin's family accompanied the minister to visit Hagia Sophia, a place of worship located in Istanbul.

"It was a pleasure to guide for Mr Muhammed Azmin Ali (Senior Minister of Malaysia) and his family. He was willing and patient to listen to stories of Hagia Sophia," the caption read.

However, the mention of Azmin's family was later removed before another caption edit was made to apologise to Malaysians. They claimed that they had mistaken Azmin's official delegation for his family.

The final caption had these lines added, "My apologies from (sic) all Malaysians, I made a mistake to share a (sic) wrong information. It was official delegation from MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry). The visit was part of the program organised by Turkish Government. We were brought there for Asar prayer."

Malaysiakini reported that the entire post was eventually deleted.

Before the first edit was made, many Malaysians were furious by the allegation that Azmin and his family were touring Turkey while the country reported a high number of new COVID-19 cases

"Hi, @AzminAli," a viral tweet with over 13,000 retweets read.

"How does it feel to visit Hagia Sophia with your family when this is what happening in your country? 8,574 new cases of COVID-19, 102 deaths, and 964 patients [in] ICU (intensive care unit), and 452 need respirator assistance."

Image via Twitter

"I honestly feel sad and dread. Azmin traveling around the world with his family. Foreign traders are warning the government that they will pull out if this downtrend continues. Meanwhile, ordinary Malaysians are forced to adhere [to] lockdown resulting in [loss] of life and income," lamented another person.

Image via Twitter

Following the criticism, one of Azmin's daughters took to Twitter to clarify that she and her family did not follow their father to Turkey

"I don't know how else to prove that we are in Malaysia," Farah Amira Azmin tweeted on the same day Turkey Local Tour Guides published the controversial post.

According to Malaysiakini, the photo shows Farah posing with her five siblings and mother Shamsida Taharin.

They can be seen standing in front of a television with a TV3 logo appearing in the top right corner.

Farah's tweet, however, was not geo-tagged.

Azmin is currently in Europe for an official trip. Last week, he visited Austria to speak with its Digital and Economic Affairs Minister, Margarete Schramböck.

This morning, 14 July, he announced that Malaysia and Turkey had signed a joint declaration on the expansion of the nations' free trade agreement. He said the declaration will help with Malaysia's post-pandemic recovery. 

Last week, four nations sent three separate letters to the government to raise their concern about the dire COVID-19 situation impacting their companies:

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