Attacked imam 'deeply offended' after being targeted on social media

Imam M.K. who was battered by a District Governor in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır said he was “deeply offended” by being targeted on social media following the attack. “They call you a traitor when you demand justice,” complained the imam and said he would fight to the end.

Ferhat Yaşar / Gazete Duvar

Imam M.K., who on Jan. 19 was battered by District Governor Burak Akeller in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır Province spoke about the incident to Gazete Duvar. He was “deeply offended” by the reaction he received on social media, “They call you a traitor when you demand justice,” he said.

On Jan. 19, District Governor Burak Akeller went to the Bahçelievler Mosque where the imam skipped some lines accidentally while reading the sermon. The district governor shouted “Read the sermon fully and correctly,” asked him “if he was a terrorist,” then pulled on the imam’s robe and hit him with a microphone handle. The imam received a medical report and filed a criminal complaint against Akeller. 

M.K. was most disturbed by how he was targeted on social media. “They made me into a traitor on social media,” he said, and he believed that the District Governor was purposefully organizing an attack on him to clear his name. “I am human, I can make mistakes. He had no right to assault me,” the imam added.  

The imam expressed his disappointment about the lack of disciplinary action. “If I belonged to any other state department, appropriate action would be taken,” he said. M.K. was determined to pursue the case to the end. “They call you a traitor when you demand justice, but I will not step back,” he stated. 

The assault targeted the Religious Affairs Directorate, according to the imam, and there would be “side effects.” He added that the public was on his side and believed justice would eventually be served. 

After a prosecutor’s office launched an investigation, many governors, district attorneys, and politicians supported Burak Akeller. 

Meanwhile, trade associations such as the Spiritual, Principled, Meritorious Religious and Foundation Officers Union (Mil Diyanet-Sen), and the Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions have supported Imam M.K..

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)