Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 1 commented on the critics of Sharia law, saying “hostility against Sharia Law is hostility against Islam,” during the graduation ceremony at the Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Academy. The president urged new religious officers to become active members of society.
“If you look at history books, you will see that Turk equals Muslim,” Erdoğan asserted and criticized any notion that sought to build “artificial walls” between the two. He continued, “A definition of Turkishness without the inclusion of Islam’s holy war spirit is merely an attempt to turn the Turkish nation into a folklore tale.”
Erdoğan suggested the unidentified enemy’s goal was to “disrupt the fabric of society, and occupy the castle they have surrounded.”
"Shariaphobia" was yet another step in this scheme, the President opined. “Sharia represents the entirety of Islam’s rules on life,” Erdoğan said and warned against who “dared to criticize” it. Ignorance was at the root of the fearlessness against Sharia, according to Erdoğan, who felt sorrow to see a section of society drowning in this “darkness of ignorance.”
Erdoğan urged the newly graduated imams not to limit themselves “within the limits of the mosques and the Quran.” He tasked them to increase their presence in society, as any gap left by imams would be filled by “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), drug dealers, and perverse and deviant movements.”
The Diyanet has garnered unprecedented influence under Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. The 2024 budget for the Directorate has increased 151 percent to a whopping 91.8 billion Turkish liras (3 billion dollars).
The Directorate has an established presence in Turkey's schools, through collaborations with the Education Ministry, allowing imams to give "religious values" courses and spiritual counselors to students.