Roma children in Turkish province to be trained as preachers, Ottoman army band members
AA PhotoThe governor of the western Turkish province of Edirne, where many members of Turkey’s Roma community live, has announced plans to train Roma children as preachers and as members of the Ottoman army band.
Announcing the “two nice projects” scheduled to begin next week, Gov. Dursun Ali Şahin said Feb. 11 that an Ottoman army band, or mehter, would be formed with members of the Roma community in the city. “The band will begin training with two teachers. The Edirne Governor’s Office’s Roma Mehter Band will consist of 41 members of the Roma community, with their drums, darbukas and zurnas,” Şahin was quoted as saying by Doğan News Agency.
Establishing special centers to train Roma children as Islamic preachers (hafız) is another upcoming project, according to Şahin.
“These centers will only serve Roma children. We will gather the Roma children from middle schools and imam hatip schools. We will give each of them 100 Turkish Liras as a scholarship grant and provide them with accommodation and food,” he said, adding that the graduates “will be appointed as Islamic clerics in mosques.”
“It will make the Roma community even stronger,” Şahin claimed.
Şahin made headlines in November 2014 when he angrily said Jews would not be permitted to use a restored synagogue in the province because Israeli soldiers were killing Muslims at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
“As those people causing the winds of war to blow while wearing the garb of highwaymen are murdering Muslims inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, we’re making their synagogues,” Şahin said, adding that the synagogue would only be used as a museum, not as a place of worship.
Şahin subsequently said media reports on his comments “did not reflect the truth.”