Opposition parties call for resignation of Turkey’s top religious body head

Opposition parties call for resignation of Turkey’s top religious body head


The leaders of opposition parties have called on the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to resign after a visit he paid to a figure known widely for stirring controversy with remarks against Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Nov. 13 slammed Ali Erbaş for visiting Kadir Mısıroğlu on Nov. 9, a day before the 80th anniversary of the death of Atatürk.

He accused Erbaş of paying a visit as a state official, slamming him for “disrespecting” the history of the republic.

Addressing his lawmakers in parliament, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also lashed out at Erbaş for the timing of the visit and for making it public.

“What are you trying to do by protecting the enemies of Atatürk?” he said, calling on Erbaş to resign.

İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener also joined the chorus of critics against Erbaş, criticizing him for failing to instruct imams to mourn Atatürk in the Friday sermon a day before his death anniversary and visiting Mısıroğlu the next day. “Erbaş should resign,” she said.

Following the avalanche of criticisms, Erbaş said he had only visited Mısıroğlu to express his get-well wishes.

Mısıroğlu is known widely for frequently stirring controversy in Turkey with comments denigrating Atatürk.

In a statement, Mısıroğlu called Erbaş’s visit “historical” and referred to the Diyanet head as the “sheikh al-Islam,” meaning the highest-ranking scholar of Islam.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy group chair Mehmet Muş said “Atatürk is a shared value of our nation.”

“The AKP will show the harshest response against any disrespect toward the founders of the Republic of Turkey, most importantly Atatürk,” he said, asking Erbaş to give an explanation of his visit.