Directorate launches probe into anti-Santa cleric
Mufti Çelebi had said it was dangerous to want to live like a Christian. DHA photo
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs launched a probe into mufti Süleyman Yeniçeri today after he issued comments against St. Nicholas and New Year’s celebrations.
"Just as Muslims react to attacks against their religious beliefs, we would like the directorate to react to Yeniçeri's statements and launch an investigation," Santa Claus Peace Council Chairman Muammer Karabulut said in a written statement.
Yeniçeri, who serves as the mufti of the Thracian province of Edirne’s Keşan district, said Dec. 27 that Santa Claus was indecent because he entered homes through chimneys and that St. Nicholas, whom the Santa Claus persona is based upon, was a made-up person. The mufti also said New Year’s celebrations were a Christian tradition and that it was dangerous for a Muslim to want to live like a Christian.
Karabulut filed a complaint with the directorate, asking them to launch an investigation into Yeniçeri for his remarks.
"It is the duty of the directorate to do so [as it would be] an important step to stop cases of crass ignorance such as Yeniçeri's,” Karabulut said.
New Year’s celebrations have no connection to the Christians' celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and therefore, had no relation to Santa Claus, Karabulut said in a written statement.
"The mufti is misleading the public by saying, ‘Christmas is not our holiday,’” Karabulut said in response to Yeniçeri's equation of New Year’s and Christmas.
“New Year’s is not celebrated as a holiday anywhere in the world. It is purely humane to imitate St. Nicholas' life and dignity in the form of Santa Claus in order to make children happy. It is neither a religious teaching, nor a sin,” he said.