Social media users expressed distaste for Pervin Ersoy's display of wealth amid the economic crisis engulfing the country and the government's claim to represent the working class.
The photo, which was since been deleted, was taken at the five-star Maxx Royal Kemert Resort, a hotel on the Turkish riviera owned by her husband, Mehmet Ersoy. It was posted on June 4, during Bayram, which celebrates the end of Ramadan and during which young people customarily kiss the hand of an elder in exchange for a gift.
Pervin Ersoy has since tried to play down the photo, saying that it was a joke and a reference to a viral video of Alişan, a well-known Turkish singer.
I have already explained that it was a joke, so please stop. When Alişan handed out money to his nephews, we just laughed. I clearly wrote: "We played a joke on one of our employees.” Please stop, am I that stupid?
Online users across the political spectrum also pointed out that Ersoy was flashing American dollars rather than Turkish lira.
“It would be wise to remind your wife that your office represents the Party of Justice and Development, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the people", one user tweeted at Mehmet Ersoy.
"Lack of national values, new money,” tweeted another user.
"President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he was waging a war on the dollar," Barıs Yarkadas, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party, wrote on Twitter. "I’m surprised by what you are doing."
In August, Erdogan encouraged the public to exchange foreign currency for Turkish lira in order to show national pride and undercut Western countries' ability to hurt the economy.
The lira fell by 30 percent in 2018 and dropped by another 10 percent in the first four months of 2019.
Erdogan's "new money" club
Many said the photo was evidence of the growing divide between Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and working-class Turks.
"During its first electoral campaign in 2002, the slogan of the AKP was ‘the voice of the voiceless, the parents of orphans,'" Paris-based journalist Guillaume Perrier wrote on Twitter. "The photo shared by the wife of the tourism minister shows the extent to which 17 years have distanced the party from the people, leaving an opening for the opposition.”