Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate
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.
Demolishing old distilleries and turning them into Islamic culture centers, alone, has its challenging symbolism, just by itself. It symbolizes the intolerance toward a lifestyle, the tension trying to be kept alive by setting cultural differences in Turkey against each other.
A religious official in the Kargı district of the northern province of Çorum was suspended from his post after sexually assaulting a minor with the driver of the district's mufti. The official, as well as the driver, were suspended following a criminal complaint filed by the child.
A group of unions and associations released a statement that condemned Turkey's top religious official Ali Erbaş for making comments that overstep the legal limitations on his position. The statement came shortly after a conflict between the Ankara Bar Association and Erbaş for his comments about adultery and homosexuality.
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."
Prosecutors’ investigation widens to include Diyarbakır Bar Association after criticism of top cleric
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."
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 top religious authority issues fatwa on donating zakat to state’s campaign against COVID-19
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.