Turkey's top religious body said to hand nine quake-surviving children to cult-run Quran school

Turkey's top religious body Diyanet has taken nine earthquake-surviving children from their mothers and placed them at a boarding Quran course which is run by a foundation close to the Islamic İsmailağa sect, according to reporting by Deutsche Welle.

Duvar English

Nine children who lost their fathers in the Feb. 6-dated earthquakes have been brought to the northwestern province of Sakarya from Gaziantep and have been placed in a boarding Quran course, according to reporting by Deutsche Welle (DW)'s Turkish service. Even though the course is affiliated with the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), it is run by a foundation close to the Islamist İsmailağa sect.

"I am a disciple of Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu," said the foundation's executive reached by DW Turkish. Ustaosmanoğlu was the leader of the İsmailağa sect and lost his life last year. "The course building belongs to us. The mufti (Provincial representative of the Diyanet) of Sakarya referred these children to us because they had nowhere to stay. We took the children under protection. We provide their education together with the Diyanet," he added. 

Provincial representative of the Diyanet, Hasan Başiş, said that the course was under the control of the Diyanet and that they provided the education, but that the food and cleaning of the course were carried out by the said foundation.

The children stay in the course building without their mothers, as reported by the DW and accepted by Hasan Başiş in the interview.

When asked, "Do these foundation officials enter the area where the children are inside?" Başiş said, "They definitely don't talk to the children." However, an employee of the foundation said that they provided Quranic education. 

Last week, some journalists stated that some earthquake victims and unaccompanied minors were placed in dormitories run by religious cults.

Turkish Family and Social Services Minister Derya Yanık denied the allegations by saying: "There is no need to provoke the society over sensitivity on children. As the state, it is out of the question for us to hand over an unaccompanied child to an association, a foundation, or any other place, or to give control to a person or organization. We immediately went and made an investigation at the address in question. The children are with their mothers."