Diyanet
A German clinic has announced that it terminated the employment contract of a Turkish heart surgeon over his comments that "homosexuality is a disease." The doctor's statements echoed those of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş.
Several German politicians have found recent remarks of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş on LGBTI individuals alarming, with one saying: "Erbaş's statements once again showed that the situation for LGBTI people in Turkey remains very difficult, indeed dangerous." They have also said that they were expecting imams affiliated with Diyanet's branch DİTİB, Germany's largest Islamic umbrella group, to "abide by the basic values of freedom and tolerance."
Turkish prosecutors have extended their investigation into bar associations over their criticism of Diyanet head Ali Erbaş, who last week suggested that "homosexuality causes illness." After the Ankara Bar Association, the Diyarbakır Bar Association also now faces charges of “insulting religious values.”
The Positive Living Association, a non-governmental organization advocating the rights of individuals living with HIV, has urged Diyanet head Ali Erbaş to apologize for his remarks targeting the LGBT community and HIV-positive individuals. Saying that Erbaş's statements contradict logic, science and law, the association noted that he discriminated the society with hate speech.
The head of Turkey’s top religious authority has once again targeted LGBT individuals during a sermon. “Islam curses homosexuality. What is the reason of that? The reason is that it brings with it illnesses and decay to lineage,” Ali Erbaş said on April 24, while addressing the novel coronavirus outbreak. Last year, Erbaş had claimed that the pride march “goes against creation,” calling same-sex relations “heresy."
Turkey's top religious body, Diyanet, has said that fasting during the month of Ramadan is a religious duty which cannot be deferred due to the coronavirus epidemic. It said in an official statement that there is no scientific evidence of a link between fasting and contracting the virus.
Diyanet head Ali Erbaş has said that he gave a list of names, including experts on psychology and sociology of religion, to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in order for them to be included in the Social Sciences Commission, of which the formation was announced by the minister on April 7 as part of the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.
A Twitter user and citizen journalist dubbed “Ankara Bird” was detained on April 2 on charges related to the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, Ankara’s main suspect for the 2016 coup attempt. Friends of the user, identified only as O.Y., seem to think his detention was prompted by critical Tweets he had written about branches of government.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa on donating zakats to the state's campaign that was launched to collect money to be used in the country's struggle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "What one needs to be careful about is that the person donating money should state that it's zakat," Diyanet said.
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has said that payments, preparations and other procedures for would-be Turkish pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have been halted indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the pilgrims who returned to Turkey from Umrah were put under quarantine in student dormitories across the country.
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has suspended all congregational prayers in mosques, including traditional Friday prayers, amid coronavirus fears. “Including the Friday prayers, congregational prayers will be suspended in mosques. During this period, instead of Friday prayers, [Muslims] can perform noon prayers [at home],” Diyanet head Ali Erbaş said.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate said on March 13 that instead of attending weekly collective mosque prayers on Fridays, Muslims in the high risk group can pray at home amid coronavirus concerns. Underscoring that Friday prayers were a must for every obliged person, the statement said that various justifications could excuse a person from the congregation, including danger to life, property or health.
The head of Turkey's top religious authority has advised worshipers during a Friday prayers sermon to pay attention to hygiene amid coronavirus fears, by recalling a saying of the Prophet Muhammad. “Our esteemed Prophet makes a connection between physical cleanliness and faith in the heart and says, 'Cleanliness is half of the faith,'” said Ali Erbaş on March 6.
Three educational seminars conducted by Turkey's Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) were held in three five-star luxurious resorts in the vacation destination of Antalya in January and February. Diyanet has become notorious in recent years for both using its resources for the purpose of promoting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's project of creating a pious generation in Turkey, as well as funding major mosque projects for other countries abroad, a source of controversy as its budget easily outpaces the budget of other key ministries.
France will replace an imam exchange program that was established in 1977 and allowed teachers to be sent to France from nine countries to teach languages and culture without Paris' supervision, President Emmanuel Macron said on Feb. 17. Instead, France will sign bilateral agreements with those nine countries, though not with Ankara.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
A group led by forensic science expert and human rights defender Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı won the elections for the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). Fincancı is now expected to be elected the leader of the association in the upcoming meeting.
A women's prison in southeast Turkey banned a book that was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM). The book that was found "suspicious" by the prison is about freedom of expression.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Tele1 TV editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardağ over his reports that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman paid a visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his wedding ceremony. The court ruled for Yanardağ's release, but imposed judicial control measures involving regularly reporting at his local police station as well as overseas travel ban.
Halk TV, a broadcaster that's critical of the government, blacked out on Sept. 28 following a ruling from Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). The five-day blackout is a first in the council's history, as such harsh sanctions haven't been issued before.
The Turkish presidency has prepared a video and an anthem on the occasion of the anniversary of the Naval Battle of Preveza which took place near the port of Prevaza in northwestern Greece in 1538. The video is a historic recreation of the battle but also includes various shots of Turkish naval officers.
A one-year-old toddler has been tortured to death in Istanbul, daily Birgün reported on Sept. 28. The toddler named “Hayat” (which translates as “Life” in Turkish) was reported to have bruises and burn scars on the body. The police reportedly detained the father whereas the mother is currently missing.
A fake "scientific publication" robbed some 50 people, mostly academics, of a total one million liras in southeast Turkey. The fraud allegedly offered users publication, and created an online space by copying legitimate websites.
Deputies and officials of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) protested the detention of dozens of members last week, on charges related to the October 2014 Kobane protests. The HDP members are accused of inciting violence in the events that lead to the deaths of 37 people, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets.
Turkey's first coronavirus vaccine was administered on Sept. 28 in Istanbul University. A 53-year-old health worker volunteered to receive the shot, and said that he hoped it would eliminate the pandemic soon.
Daily BirGün released video showing the crime scene of Nadira Kadirova's alleged suicide, revealing signs of a struggle in the suspicious death of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Şirin Ünal's help. Meanwhile, the daily released a video of Kadirova's mother at her grave, accusing the deputy of killing the young woman.
Kurdish singer Cesim Başboğa said that he was threatened by gendarmerie officials and MİT members to not sing in Kurdish in Bitlis' Tatvan district. According to Başboğa, a MİT official "banned" him to sing in Kurdish, saying, "I'm warning you for the last time. You'll be in trouble in the smallest mistake."
Turkish police have denied that three HDP politicians, including Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, were hospitalized over food poisoning while under detention. According to the police statement that was released after the HDP's claims on the issue, Bilgen was taken to a hospital over an infection in his body. Deputy Hüseyin Kaçmaz earlier on Sept. 28 said that Bilgen, İsmail Şengün and Can Memiş were taken to a hospital over food poisoning.
Turkish prosecutors have prepared a second indictment in connection with the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The indictment against the six suspects, including two consulate workers and four other Saudi nationals, was sent to the court to be combined with the main case.
Turkey's Industry and Technology Ministry falsely advertised opening a factory in a mass opening event, only to be refuted by the facility's board who said they'd been in business for 45 years. It was later claimed that the name was erroneously added, and that some of the factories had merely been invested in, and not built from scratch.
Police in the southeastern province of Şırnak are refusing to release the numbers of arrests for selling and using drugs amid a surge in illegal substances in recent years. "It has been determined that such information cannot be accessed on an individual basis," police responded to an inquiry by Duvar.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.
City water in a district of western Kütahya was revealed to contain levels of arsenic 350 times higher than the acceptable standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The water also reportedly contains 8,000 times the acceptable level of boron, and deaths from cancer in the Emet district are three times as high as the other districts of Kütahya.
The Turkish government's restrictions on card and board games are hurting business for old-fashioned coffee houses. Old-fashioned coffeehouses are an important part of social life, especially for retired and unemployed men in Turkey, and board and card games are among the primary activities.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.