Quran course teacher sexually abused two children, prosecutor finds

A Quran course teacher named Ruhullah Çelik sexually abused two children between 2017 and 2019 in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş's Türkoğlu district, an investigation by the prosecutor's office revealed, wrote journalist Barış Pehlivan in his column in daily Cumhuriyet on Sep. 16.

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An 11-year-old child identified only as B.T. told his dad during a phone call he made from a Quran course on Feb. 15, 2020 that the teacher Ruhullah Çelik had been sexually abusing him, wrote journalist Barış Pehlivan in his column in daily Cumhuriyet on Sep. 16. 

The child said that the abuse had been ongoing for a while, prompting the father to speak with the local religious authority, the mufti's office in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş's Türkoğlu district. 

The prosecutor's office got involved after the child's report that the teacher would summon him to his room three or four times a week and threaten him with a beating or disciplinary action if he told anyone about the abuse. 

The prosecutor's investigation led to the emergence of another sexual abuse survivor, identified only as M.E.S., who said that the teacher made him watch the TV series "Resurrection: Ertuğrul" after abusing him.

The prosecutor's office confirmed these abuses with the statements of four other children, which ultimately led to Çelik's arrest. 

Çelik was employed by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) within the scope of a "Project for Public Service" to work as a cleaning worker at the Quran course in 2017, and was promoted to be an instructor in 2019.

Çelik abused the students in the two years between his employment and his promotion. Afterwards, he received another promotion by the Diyanet to become an imam in the southern province of Antalya. 

On Sept. 16, Deutsche Welle reported that the Diyanet is eyeing regulations that would mandate Quran courses for children aged four to six.