Turkish official suggests NYE curfew violators work in mosques to 'understand their mistakes'

The chair of Turkey's Religious Foundations Union suggested that anyone who violates the four-day curfew over New Year's Eve should carry out public service by working in mosques or masjids. The chairman said that this would allow those who "took alcohol and spent time in entertainment venues" to "understand their mistakes."

Istanbul's Sultanahmet Mosque is seen during a weekend curfew in this file photo.

Duvar English

Turkish Religious Foundations Union Chair Nuri Ünal suggested that anyone who violates the four-day nationwide curfew over New Year's Eve should serve a day of community service at a mosque or masjid, a small Muslim prayer room.

"Anyone who breaks curfew for arbitrary reasons, whether that is walking the streets without a purpose or gathering in an entertainment venue, should work mosque services. Believe me, they would be happy about it," the chairman said. 

The implication is that curfew violators who work in mosques would be gratified not only for doing a public service, but also because they could earn "sevap," the opposite of sin in Islam.

"They could make up for something pointless with something meaningful," Ünal said. 

The violators could work in jobs assigned to them by the mosque director in over 90,000 mosques across the country, Ünal added, as the clergy usually have to do all maintenance themselves to avoid additional costs. 

"You might be wondering, 'why should we allow into our mosques someone who drinks alcohol and spends time in entertainment venues?' They should work in our mosques and masjids to understand their mistakes," the chairman said, adding that public service would be "a big opportunity for them."

Turkey has implemented full weekend curfews and partial weekday curfews after 9 p.m. during the second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country, but Ankara also took this opportunity to ban the sale of alcohol during lockdown hours.

Although supermarkets are allowed to remain open during weekend curfews, they're banned from selling alcohol. Liquor stores are also shut down entirely. 

The Interior Ministry released a second notice about the four-day curfew over New Year's Eve on Dec. 28, noting that not celebrating the holiday was "not a suggestion, but an obligation," adding law enforcement will be working with a full staff to enforce compliance with the ban.