Pennsylvania senate candidate Dr Mehmet Oz holds dual citizenship in the US and Turkey having served in the Turkish army before finding fame on television, but he has vowed to give up his Turkish citizenship if elected.
Mehmet Oz, of The Dr Oz Show fame, is best known as a daytime talk show physician and surgeon, but he transitioned into politics in November 2021 after announcing his candidacy as a Republican for the US Senate in Pennsylvania.
The TV personality is appealing to the nation with his medical experience, stating: “As a heart surgeon I know how precious life is.” A Trump-endorsed candidate, Oz’s dual citizenship in the US and Turkey has been a topic of debate, but the former host confirmed in March he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected, as reported by CNN.
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Oz intended to keep Turkish citizenship for his mother
Oz was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Suna and Mustafa Oz, immigrants from Konya Province, Turkey. His father was a surgeon and his mother, Suna, is the daughter of a pharmacist.
Growing up in Ohio, he was raised as a Muslim, although his father practised traditional Islam while his mother was a secular Muslim. As a result of his family’s different perspectives, Oz says he “struggled a lot with Muslim identity”, and he went on to practise Sufism.
On 15 March 2022, Politics PA reported Oz has retained Turkish citizenship to care for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. “I can love my country and love my mom,” he said, even if it forced him to forgo security clearances.
Soon after the report, the celebrity physician clarified he would surrender his Turkish passport to serve in the Senate.
“My dual citizenship has become a distraction in this campaign,” he said. “I maintained it to care for my ailing mother but, after several weeks of discussions with my family, I’m committing that before I am sworn in as the next US senator for Pennsylvania, I will only be a US citizen.”
If successful, Oz would be the first Muslim US senator.
Dr Oz was in the Turkish army
Despite being born in the US, Oz gained Turkish citizenship as, under the country’s citizenship law: “A child born to a Turkish mother or through a Turkish father within the unity of marriage either in Turkey or abroad is a Turkish citizen.”
Oz retained dual nationality by serving in the Turkish army for 60 days in the early 1980s.
In November 2021, National Review highlighted the host’s Turkish business ties, as well as his encounter with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The pair met in 2014 and Oz served as the face of Turkish Airlines’ Super Bowl 2018 advert.
However, in a Washington Post interview, Oz explained his interactions with Turkish political figures and businessmen were as a Turkish-American rather than as a politician, adding he isn’t “concerned whether Erdogan likes his positions or not”.