Diyanet-employed Turkish imam to be deported from Belgium for being homophobic

A Turkish imam employed by Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) in Belgium was denied a visa renewal as a result of his homophobic statements on social media, BBC Turkish reported. The imam also became the subject of an investigation for threatening public order and national security.

Demonstrators are seen carrying a Pride flag at a march in Belgium. Credit: Alonso Juarez Photography

Duvar English

The Belgian government withheld a visa extension for an imam working for Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) for his homophobic rhetoric, and ruled that he would be deported, the BBC's Turkish service reported on Jan. 28.

The imam from the Green Mosque (Groen Moskee) near the city of Genk shared messages on social media that falsely claimed that homosexuality is a disease that causes rot and is banned by Islam. 

The imam referenced the homophobic rhetoric of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş. He also thanked one of his followers who said, "Homosexuality is a virus of capitalism and democracy," possibly implying that the global systems bred non-heterosexual tendencies, although he did not clarify.

Employed by Diyanet, the anonymous imam became the subject of an investigation for being a "threat to public order and national security" upon his application to the migration office for a visa renewal.

"I have difficulty accepting homophobic rhetoric from within the religious community. As an imam, you should be setting an example, especially if you've earned the right to work in Belgium," Minister Sammy Mahdi said.

Meanwhile, the state also launched a petition for the closure of the Green Mosque on the grounds that they spread "messages that provoke hatred and discrimination against the LGBT community."

The imam in question unfortunately represents a larger pattern of homophobia among officials of the Turkish government, which recently mandated that "+18 years old" signage be displayed on merchandise displaying rainbows, a Pride symbol.