ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
At a time of national turmoil, Turkey's bitterly divided leadership was briefly united yesterday at the funeral of Hasan Doğan, the 37th president of the Turkish Football Federation.
From President Abdullah Gül to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, many political leaders and thousands of others joined the prayers held for Doğan in Istanbul's Fatih Mosque in the early afternoon. While many prominent figures of the incumbent Justice and Development Party, or AKP, were present at the funeral, other participants included Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, a member of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, and some high-ranking officers.
Doğan was a popular figure in Turkey, admired for his successful career and embracing personality. Before becoming the head of the Turkish Football Federation on Feb. 14, he had worked for several companies in the textile industry. He also was an active businessman in the media industry as the former owner of the Turkish TV channel Kanal 24 as well as the Star newspaper. The way Doğan cheered after Turkey's goals at EURO 2008 by hugging his wife in the stadium and jumping around in glee brought him broad public sympathy. His death last Saturday due to a heart attack in Bodrum, a popular tourist destination along the Aegean coast, was widely covered by the Turkish media.
Yesterday early in the morning, a ceremony was held for Doğan in front of the football federation he had been chairing. In a short speech, his son, Selim Doğan, asked for prayers for his deceased father. Then Doğan's coffin was brought to the Fatih Mosque, where thousands were waiting despite the hot weather. The crowd waited for Gül and Erdoğan to join the prayers held at the courtyard of the mosque. �There are people here from all walks of life,� said Sarıgül. �It is like the funerals of Turgut Özal, Erdal İnönü or Sakıp Sabancı. We have to take a lesson from this.�
No wonder Doğan's main message to Turkish society had been to overcome the past grievances and look forward to the future together. In a speech he gave when he was appointed as the president of the football federation, he had quoted from Rumi: �Everything is said about yesterday. New things need to be said for tomorrow.� With this funeral, like with his death, Doğan certainly said new things.