In this story from Turkey, a rumored connection of U.S. dollars to the recent coup attempt have led Turks to reject the dollar.
One-dollar bills have been found on high-ranking officers involved in the July 15 coup attempt, in what is perhaps the most bizarre of the many oddities to emerge from the massive crackdown on the Gulen community, the accused culprit in the putsch. The $1 bills have been found also on policemen, judges, academics, businessmen, teachers and other civilians linked to the Gulen community, the government’s former ally, which it now calls the Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization (FETO).
The bills are said to denote membership in the secretive group, and their serial numbers are believed to have coded meanings. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has said the $1 bill “is undoubtedly of some important function within FETO,” while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has vowed to defeat “the lowlifes who sell their souls for $1.”
Ordinary Turks are also angry, protesting the dollar in various ways. In Istanbul, for instance, a group of shopkeepers threw $1 bills in the sewage, pledging not to deal with dollars again. In the most prevalent reaction, however, the greenback is now banished from wedding parties, where the bride and the groom as well as the musicians entertaining the guests are often sprayed with banknotes. Two days before the coup attempt, for instance, a wedding in Sanliurfa made the headlines for the “shower of dollars” that hailed down on the newlyweds. But, as the media report, “Weddings have ushered in a Turkish lira-era” after July 15.
Spraying dollars at wedding parties may convey an air of affluence and largesse, but it is actually a cost-cutting measure devised by crafty Turks. One dollar is worth roughly 3 Turkish lira, while the smallest Turkish banknote is 5 liras — more expensive while at the same time less cool than the greenback. So, to make a real impression with Turkish currency, one has to be prepared to sacrifice banknotes of at least 10 or 20 Turkish lira.
Now the main usage area of the $1 bills in Turkey seems to be gone, as no one wants to be associated with the putschists. In currency exchange offices, no one is asking for $1 bills, while those with leftovers from oversea trips are said to be tearing the bills up or throwing them away, with only the bravest turning up for exchange.
One of the exchange offices Al-Monitor visited had accumulated hundreds of $1 bills, with one employee grumbling, “It’s not like before. People are afraid to both buy and sell them.” Another currency dealer said the demand for $1 bills ended “at a stroke” after Gulenists were reported to use them for secret communication. “People have come to see them as criminal tools,” he added. A third shop had done away with the $1 bill altogether. “No $1 bills here,” the dealer said. “Neither buying nor selling.”
Yet, not all $1 bills are of an “incriminating” nature. The serial number matters. According to media reports, a serial number that begins with the letter F denotes that the holder is a top Gulenist leader, while C is for lower-level managers and J for ordinary members. Other reports claim the $1 bills were blessed personally by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric heading the sect, before being distributed to members, and that the serial numbers serve as a sort of ID number, the records of which Gulen keeps at his mansion in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, others who disposed of the greenback after the putsch did so not out of fear but to make profits. The Turkish currency plunged sharply over the coup attempt, leading many to sell their dollars to buy more of the cheapened lira before it recovered.
Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for their part, have praised the sell-off as a display of patriotism, a vantage point that meshes with a widespread conviction among Turks that the United States colluded with the putschists.
To read the complete article, see:
Why are Turks disposing of $1 bills?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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