Eight in ten employees complain of favoritism in Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate

Eight in ten employees believed there was favoritism in Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), a survey by the Diyanet Public Workers’ Union revealed. Some 30 percent of employees disagreed that “Diyanet was the most esteemed institution related to Islam.”

Duvar English

Eight in ten employees at Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) believed that the institution showed favoritism, according to a survey conducted by the Diyanet Public Workers’ Union. 

A total of 6,406 employees responded to the survey, where a majority of the employees reported their belief that there was institution-wide preferential treatment and favoritism.

The union on Jan. 17 presented the findings of the “Problems, Expectations, and Religious Perceptions of  Diyanet Employees” project to director Ali Erbaş. The findings pointed to the decay of the institution, according to reporting by the daily BirGün.

A mere seven percent of the employees could confidently agree that there was “no preferential treatment, favoritism or nepotism” in the institution. 13 percent of the employees were indecisive.  

Some 35 percent of the employees said they would transfer to another state institution if they had the chance, which pointed to dissatisfaction with the work environment of the Diyanet. 45 percent said that they could not use their annual leaves. Of those who could not use their paid time off, 26 percent claimed it was because their managers created difficulties. 

Another question asked employees whether they believed the Diyanet was the most effective and reputable Islamic institution in Turkey, to which 68 percent answered “Yes.”  

Diyanet’s quality of operations has decreased over the last five years, believed 37 percent of the employees. Furthermore, 38 percent expressed their dissatisfaction with injustice in the workplace. 

The survey asked employees about their thoughts on Turkish society’s relationship with religion. More than 85 percent of the employees believed the Turkish population’s religious sensitivities decreased over the last five years. Those who believed that Cemevi’s, Alevi places of worship, were not legitimate temples were at 60 percent.

Turkish government to-date refuses to acknowledge Alevi Cemevi as legitimate places of worship and claims that they are a cultural entity. Turkey has recently passed a bill to “address Alevi concerns” and to grant the Cemevi the same financial support as mosques, such as covering their bills. Alevis make up an estimated 15-25 percent of Turkey’s population, the second religious group after Sunni Islam. 

Amid the dissatisfaction of Diyanet employees reflected by the survey results, the directorate has amassed considerable influence under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The budgets allocated to the directorate often surpassed the budgets of entire Ministries. The 2024 budget for the Directorate has increased 151 percent to a whopping 91.8 billion Turkish liras (3 billion dollars).