Serkan Alan/ DUVAR
A schoolteacher who was removed from him job by decree during the extended state of emergency period that followed the failed coup attempt of July 2016 has been prevented from going on the Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) due to his passport being confiscated, despite being acquitted in an investigation against him.
Prosecutors opted not to proceed with an investigation against the schoolteacher R.Y., but in 2018 due to a restriction that was imposed on his passport, he was unable to go to Mecca for the holy pilgrimage. R.Y. was initially fired from his job due to the Bylock program appearing on a phone that was registered to him but that he had given to a relative.
Bylock was a Whatsapp-style smartphone application that the government accuses followers of the exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, which it blames for the July 2016 coup, for using to secretly communicate with each other.
After being acquitted in the case against him, R.Y. earned the right to reapply for a passport, and was chosen in a second official drawing to attend the Hajj. He applied for his passport in November of 2019 and has still not received a reply.
R.Y. was told by an official from the Directorate of Religious Affairs that he needed to pay for his Hajj trip by February 7, and that he would get his money back if his passport did not arrive by March. The former teacher borrowed money from friends and made the payment, but will once again be unable to make the pilgrimage to Mecca if he does not get his passport in time.
“I graduated from a religious high school. I'm a conservative person. During this process, in spite of the psychological and sociological problems I experienced, due to the fact that my wife works, we didn't experience much economic difficulty. Many people who went through what I did also had economic troubles. It's painful that a government that refers to itself as conservative would prevent someone from worship. This is a party that I voted for in the past because I am conservative, but it changed,” R.Y. said