Religious Affairs Directorate
Run by Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the Islamic Research Center (İSAM) has seen a 600-percent increase in its budget over the last 16 years. Known for holding a symposium about Islamic fatwas on medical issues, the foundation is chaired by a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Turkish Education Ministry has urged its personnel to attend a symposium on Hagia Sophia organized by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) and scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Sept. 30 upon the religious body's request. The ministry sent a notice to all provincial and district directorates to ensure attendance.
An imam has lost his life after being forced to touch several bodies of COVID-19 victims without his hazmat suit on in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, Yeni Yaşam daily reported on Aug. 31. The imam's wife said that she thinks the mufti's office forced her husband to work with COVID-19 victims because he had entered a conflict with the office before.
A district office of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) confiscated employees' premiums of over thousand liras to raise funds for an official vehicle. The district mufti's office notified employees of their claim over premiums via text message.
The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, has defended delivering the Friday sermons at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, saying that it's a "widespread practice." "The fact that the sermon is delivered like is to announce that Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and to give a message regarding conquest," he said.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
There is a need for a segment that will wear the outfit shown at the podium in Hagia Sophia in neighborhoods. The soul and the spirit that has been infused into the AKP government has to have reciprocity in the streets. The sword at the Hagia Sophia mosque opening will turn into a stick if needed.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that triggering debates on establishing a caliphate and regime change aims to divert Turkey from its goals. "We can never accept damning [someone] at a place like Hagia Sophia as a correct approach. Neither our president nor our friends had such an attitude," Kalın said on Diyanet head Erbaş's remarks.
Thousands of people have called on Diyanet head Ali Erbaş to resign after his remarks that "damned" the country's founding father, Atatürk. Erbaş, whose Islamist statements often draw ire, on July 24 caused outrage for giving a sermon at Hagia Sophia that included apparent damning of Atatürk.
Not practically, but theoretically the recent scene at Hagia Sophia was not un-reminiscent of Al Baghdadi’s Mosul Friday sermon. This is not who we are. We must be better than this and we are better than this. The year is 2020.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş delivered the Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, presenting an Ottoman tradition of conquest. Two green flags were also hung on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Comparisons between July 15 and the Turkish War of Independence, attempts to define it a “new war of independence” or brand it as a symbol of the new regime have all failed. President Erdoğan's efforts to establish political hegemony and found new institutions had already expired by the time of the attempted coup.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate banned the killing of sacrifices in the streets and mandated that professional altars work on an appointment-only basis during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday. The directorate also issued a series of guidelines requiring safe distancing, wearing masks and health checks for professional altars.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) Foundation has reportedly purchased a private school founded by a religious cult in the capital Ankara. While the details of the purchase are not clear yet, the number of private schools belonging to the foundation increased to two. It previously purchased a school in the western province of İzmir.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) mandated facemasks and social distancing inside mosques, which will reopen after months of closure on May 29. The Diyanet also urged congregations to conduct mass prayers outside and visitors to perform ablutions at home, rather than at public sinks in mosques.
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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
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.
Amnesty International has called on Turkey to investigate the throwing of two men from a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van. It also said that it's very concerned on the "allegations of torture and mistreatment," adding that international human rights law and standards must ensure that Turkey prevents torture under all circumstances.
Greece on Sept. 27 called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an "insult" to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. "We expect Turkish authorities to immediately condemn and investigate the incident, so that the culprits are brought before justice," it said. "Such unacceptable actions only seek to torpedo prospects for easing tensions between the two countries."
HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan has called on Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to "speak the truth" about October 2014 Kobane protests a day after 20 HDP members were detained. "Now is the time to speak the truth. I think it's important for people who were in the government at the time and who know what unfolded to speak," Buldan said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that coronavirus (COVID-19) positive individuals will wear electronic bracelets while under quarantine as a measure against violating quarantine rules. The ministry is evaluating two options regarding the bracelet and both options include alarming authorities if breaches take place.
Members of the European Parliament have condemned the latest crackdown on pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Kati Piri said that the Turkish government's move is “another step backwards pushing Turkey even further away from the EU,” while Nacho Sánchez Amor said that Turkish authorities seem “determined to establish some kind of overall retroactive state of emergency in order to further suppress opposition and any critical voices.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that he is very proud of his son who is doing his military service on the Greek-Turkish border. “Very proud father! I’m sorry that, due to Covid, I could not come to Alexandroupolis to brag about you!” said Mitsotakis Instagram on Sept. 25.
Istanbul Medical Chamber said on Sept. 25 that a healthcare worker who warned a patient's relative to put his mask on was beaten. Prof. Dr. Tufan Tükek, dean of Istanbul University’s Çapa Medical Faculty, said that the health worker named Rıfat Babayiğit might suffer a permanent vision loss due to the attack.
A deputy of the main opposition CHP has criticized the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) after a video footage showing a child being battered at a Quran course has surfaced. CHP MP Ali Öztunç called on Diyanet head to enlighten the incident, while also indicating that he does not believe the explanation of the district governor's office that the 10-year-old child was beaten by a 15-year-old child attending the same course.
The Surp Sarkis Armenian Church in Diyarbakır's Sur district, which is on the verge of destruction, is being targeted in recent years by treasure hunters. HDP deputy Garo Paylan said that the government's policy toward the church is a “purposeful neglect” for the memory of the Armenians in the city to be wiped away and called on the authorities to take the necessary measures for the protection of the church.
The Health Ministry has issued a new circular concerning the temporary supplementary payments given during the coronavirus epidemic. As per the new circular, doctors will get up to 50 percent increase in their coronavirus bonuses, whereas Diyanet personnel responsible for handling the deceased' bodies will get a 100 percent increase in their additional payments.
Turkey is trying to procure European-made air defense systems and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam SAMP/T air missile systems, Elysee sources told Bloomberg. Macron reportedly told Erdoğan that Turkey must clarify its objectives in northern Syria before the request could be considered.
The spokesperson of Turkey's Justice Ministry has said that Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into Salafi associations which are alleged to be taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in the country. The investigation comes after Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, a popular preacher from the İsmailağa order of Naqshbandi Sufis, warned the government that there are 2,000 Salafi associations in Turkey which are preparing for a civil war.
A Turkish court on Sept. 25 banned access to the website of daily Yeni Yaşam newspaper. The reason of the access ban is not yet known.
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.