Turkey's Atheism Association has filed a criminal complaint against Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş over his comments that “those who do not believe in afterlife can commit any malignancy.”
The criminal complaint filed by the Atheism Association at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office noted Erbaş's remarks amounted to “hate speech” and incited animosity against people who do not believe in religion.
“As the Atheism Association, we would like once again underline that we find it extremely dangerous of the state officials to incite the public against people with different beliefs, and we invite the officials to show the responsibility that their posts require for the social peace to be maintained,” the association said.
The criminal complaint concerns Erbaş's Oct. 23 remarks during a mosque opening in the eastern province of Ağrı's Patnos district.
“Every kind of malignancy can be expected from people who do not have a belief in afterlife. What is to prevent that [malignancy] otherwise? What kind of malignancy would a person not do if they do not believe that they will not give an account of deeds done in this world in the afterlife?” Erbaş said.
This is not the first time that Erbaş has shown a fraction of society as a target. Earlier this year he had claimed in a sermon that homosexuality caused diseases, including HIV, which sparked a fierce debate in Turkey.
The Ankara bar association of lawyers accused Erbaş of inciting hatred against gay people and brought a lawsuit against him. However, Ankara prosecutors said in a decision in May that they have not found any reason to start an investigation into Erbaş.Turkish prosecutors say no need to start investigation into top cleric's homophobic remarks