haydarabad (links to original article)
(Hürriyet Newspaper, 22 February 2011)
The Nizam of Haydarabad, Mükerrem Bereket Shah, who was the
grandson of the last Caliph, Abdulmecit, and Manolya Onur, who was
runner-up Miss Turkey in 1975, married in 1990 and divorced four
years later. A daughter named Nilüfer was born of this marriage.
According to claims, Bereket Shah and Manolya Onur certified two
agreements whereby the land upon which the Çırağan Palace sits in
Haydarabad, India, would be left to Princess Nilüfer after Shah's death.
However, when Bereket Shah's first wife and the mother of two of his
children, Esra Birgen, entered the picture things got complicated. Birgen
got signature authority from Bereket Shah and transferred the Çırağan
Palace, worth 100 million dollars, to a fund she established.
The gossip doesn't end here. It is claimed that Esra Birgen has tried to
prevent the 19 year-old Nilüfer from reaping her father's inheritance.
Esra Birgen allegedly wanted Pulet Hülya Acurol, who served as Shah's
assistant for 11 years, to cut a lock of Nilüfer's hair and bring it to her,
with the aim of conducting a DNA test. Acurol rejected Birgen's request
and was fired for this reason. She then filed suit against Birgen, claiming
that she had worked without insurance and could therefor not obtain any
Esra Birgen, whose two children from Shah are named Shehkar and
Azmet, rejected these claims, saying 'the claim that I wanted the hair
for a DNA test is completely unreal. And even if there any doubt out
there this is an issue for Bereket Shah and Manolya Onur. This doesn't
concern me in any way whatsoever. Pulet Hülya Acurol, whose name
has been mentioned in the press, was fired for unpleasant and unethical
reasons. Manolya Onur got close to Hülya Acurol in order to get hold
of any document or information that could harm me so she could use it
Birgen claimed that reports in the press were deliberately put there by
Manolya Onur. She added 'all these reports are baseless. Manolya
Onur requested much too much property from Bereket Shah, despite
the fact that they were married such a short time. She's trying to harm
Bereket Shah and us by having these reports published. But the person
she has shamed is the child's father. Her only aim is to obtain the
Çırağan Palace in India, which is currently registered to a trust set up
by Bereket Shah. In future years all of the trust's property will be shared
equally among the children.'
Esra Birgen went on to say that 'because she said she was having a
difficult time in the period right after her divorce, I sent Manolya Onur
2,500 dollars each month for three years out of my own pocket. While
I was making payments to her, she filed a suit against us in India. She
came to the court with her daughter wearing inappropriate outfits and
made ugly and baseless claims about us. The suits were filed 17 years
ago and they're still going on.'
Dilek Birgen, the wife of Esra Birgen's brother Mehmet Birgen, had
this to say about Pulet Hülya Acurol, who has filed suit against Esra
Birgen for making her work without insurance and for being fired without
compensation: 'we asked Pulet Hülya Acurol not to file the suit but she
didn't listen to us. Manolya Onur went to court as her witness but they
Mükerrem Bereket Shah, the Nizam of Haydarabad, and his first wife
Esra Birgen married in 1952 and divorced in 1979. The couple had two
children, one boy and one girl.