Turkish village celebrates 'Ottoman' Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson's ancestors are buried in Kalfat

Friday, July 26, 2019

Residents of a Turkish village are “honoured” that Boris Johnson can trace his roots there.

Citizens of Kalfat, north of the capital Ankara, gathered to celebrate his appointment as Prime Minister and hope he will visit them while in office.

Mr Johnson’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi, was born in Kalfat in 1813 where his home stands today.

Kalfat is 62 miles north of the Turkish capital Ankara.

The family was known as the “Sarioglangiller” or “of the family of the blond boy” but it is unknown whether Mr Johnson’s blond hair can be traced to his Turkish ancestry.

Villager Adem Karaagac said at least six families living in the town are distantly related to the Prime Minister.

“We are honoured that someone who has Ottoman genes, who comes from these lands, has become the Prime Minister of a prodigious country,” he said.

As Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson visited Turkey in 2016.

Mr Johnson brought up his Turkish roots on the leadership campaign trail when defending himself against accusations of Islamophobia.

“When my Muslim great-grandfather came to this country in fear of his life in 1912, he did so because he knew it was a place that was a beacon of generosity and openness and a willingness to welcome people from around the world," Mr Johnson said.

The relationship with his ancestral homeland has been rocky – during the Brexit campaign he warned millions of Turks might be able to enter Britain if Turkey joined the EU.

He also faced criticism when he composed an offensive poem about the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a magazine competition.

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