Taliban delegation to hold talks with Turkey's top Islamic cleric

The Taliban delegation is set to hold talks with the head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, in the capital Ankara. Turks took to social media to criticize the upcoming meeting, saying that it serves as a justification of the Taliban's religious ideology.

This collage photo shows the Taliban delegation and Diyanet head Ali Erbaş.

Duvar English 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Oct. 14 that the Taliban delegation will hold a meeting with officials of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

Çavuşoğlu made the comments after he himself held high-level talks with Afghanistan’s interim government in the capital Ankara. 

"They have requested from us that the investments there [in Afghanistan] continue. And they have given us information on issues I have just mentioned. And now they will meet with the Diyanet and our other institutions," Çavuşoğlu said. 

Turks took to Twitter to criticize the upcoming meeting, asking what the Taliban have to do with Diyanet. "They [Turkish government officials] are saying that terror does not stand next to Islam. But this [meeting] shows otherwise, and physically," said one social media user, while another asked: "What will they discuss with Diyanet, is it whether Turkey has anything that falls contrary to Taliban's belief?" 

Many social media users recalled President Recep Erdoğan's previous remarks that the Taliban should be comfortable when holding talks with Turkey because Ankara "doesn't have anything that contradicts their beliefs."

"What will they ask from the Diyanet? How far will the remarks of 'We do not have anything that contradicts the Taliban in terms of belief' stretch out?" asked another social media user. 

The Taliban delegation, led by Afghan foreign minister Amir Khan Mutttaqi, held talks with Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 14. 

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover, and has urged those countries to step up engagement.

At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.

Turkey has been working with Qatar to help operate Kabul airport and re-open it to international travel.

The visit comes a day after Çavuşoğlu told reporters that he and ministers from other countries plan to visit Kabul for talks with the Taliban.