'Keep away from politics,' Diyanet tells religious groups
Fatma Aksu - MECCA
The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Mehmet Görmez, has said religious movements should “refrain from engaging in politics.”
“A movement should declare the framework in which it is serving the public and should not go beyond this. For example, if it says it was formed to serve the spirit of society we should not see it get involved in international politics,” Görmez told reporters at the Hajj Administrative Center in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“We should not see [religious movements] going beyond themselves and directly into the center of politics. We should not see them involved in trade, football or match-fixing, for example. Instead, we should see them serving the spirit of society,” he added, referring to the July 3, 2011 match-fixing probe, which Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım claims was a plot by the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to have orchestrated the July 15 failed coup attempt.
Saying that a meeting between the Diyanet and various religious civil movements will be held as soon as he returns to Turkey after the Hajj, Görmez noted that the Diyanet held an extraordinary three-day meeting after the failed coup attempt.
“Several mistakes have been made in evaluations after July 15. One of those mistakes was to bring all religious structures and religious movements under suspicion of treason. But we shouldn’t ignore the danger of similar mistakes emerging from other structures,” he said.
“Taking this into consideration, evaluations will be made in meetings with civilian religious structures that contribute to religious life in Turkey. I believe this is necessary,” Görmez added.
“We should take every precaution to prevent ourselves from falling for that mistake ... The solution is competence, merit, science and freedom. The solution is transparency,” he said.
The Diyanet head also said “lessons should be drawn” from the consequences of Muslim religious leaders around the world being divided.
Marking the Eid al-Adha festival, one of the two most important celebrations in the Islamic calendar, Görmez said Muslims should “feel happiness in their hearts.”
“All festivals are a time to bring love to our hearts. We should feel happiness in our hearts,” he added.
Meanwhile, Saudi King Salman said on Sept. 13 that the kingdom strictly rejected “any attempt to play politics with the Hajj.”
“The kingdom categorically refuses the idea that the Hajj serves any political purpose,” Salman said in a brief address to international VIPs attending the pilgrimage.