Turkish mufti commits suicide after dismissed from post over 'lifestyle'

A Turkish mufti has committed suicide who suffered from mobbing and were dismissed from his post because of his “lifestyle.” Accordingly, the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has not complied with the court’s decision to reinstate mufti Mehmet Deniz who was dismissed over his “clothing” and “riding bicycles and motorcycles.”

Ferhat Yaşar / Gazete Duvar

Turkish mufti Mehmet Deniz on July 31 committed suicide after suffering from mobbing and being dismissed from his post over his “lifestyle.” 

Accordingly, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) first started an investigation into Deniz, who was working in Balıkesir Provincial Mufti Office, over his “clothing” and “riding bicycles and motorcycles.” After the investigation, Diyanet dismissed Deniz from his post. 

However, the Balıkesir Administrative Court overturned the condemnation and dismissal decisions of the Diyanet and ruled for his reinstatement. After Diyanet did not comply with the court’s decision, Deniz took the issue to the Constitutional Court (AYM). 

While the Constitutional Court process was going on, mufti Mehmet Deniz committed suicide in his home on July 31. His colleagues who knew Mehmet Deniz told Gazete Duvar that Diyanet has hundreds of cases similar to his case. 

They said the members of the Diyanet Appointment Executive Board (AYK) dismissed many people who were not from their own group from being a mufti or a preacher for similar reasons.

One mufti said, “Something has to change in the Diyanet. This suicide incident had a huge impact. (Diyanet head) Ali Erbaş and the executives could not sleep until the morning. It was the first time that a mufti committed suicide in Turkey.”

Mehmet Deniz’s wife Zeynep Deniz said, “For what reason did they punish such a person? Unable to bear all this, he ended his life. I am calling out to Ali Erbaş: Who are we going to hold accountable for this? Who will account for this to me, to my children? You are responsible. Who will interfere with these court decisions?”

Fair, Dynamic, Idealist, Merited Diyanet and Foundation Workers Union (Adil-Sen) head Ahmet Murat Hocaoğlu said, “Why does a mufti commit suicide? I am calling out to the Diyanet and its executives. We do not want such an unfair treatment. Has Mehmet Deniz been punished for living this way?”

(English version by Alperen Şen)