Turkey needs inspection mechanism for religious communities, cults: Mufti
Istanbul mufti Prof. Dr. Hasan Kamil Yılmaz has said the lack of an inspection mechanism to regulate Islamic communities and cults in Turkey is a “really serious problem.”
“Being able to be inspected is the biggest advantage of the Diyanet [Directorate of Religious Affairs]. Today many cults and communities in Turkey acting on behalf of Islam are not transparent and cannot be inspected, which is a really serious problem,” Yılmaz said on Jan. 10 during a conference in Istanbul.
“In the Ottoman Empire period, the state inspected these types of cult structures as a regular part of its agenda, because of the many problems caused by them,” Yılmaz said, adding that Diyanet on the other hand was a “transparent institution with clear targets, aims and means.”
“We need to maintain and expand transparency efforts. Even more importantly, we need to be persistent in making communities realize the importance of this issue,” Yılmaz said, arguing that a structure should be established to inspect communities and cults in the country.
This new establishment should inspect these cults’ members, their economic transparency and determine how many people they recruit and what their targets are, according to Yılmaz. “An absence of information on these structures is a problem,” he said.
The Istanbul-based mufti has also touched upon the recent controversy surrounding the Diyanet’s alleged support for marrying girls as young as nine. The “Dictionary of Religious Terms” on the Diyanet website had stated that “girls go through puberty at the age of nine and boys at the age of 12,” adding that “those who have gone through puberty may marry.” Following an outcry over the definitions, the Diyanet shut down its online dictionary.
“Diyanet should not be in a serious panic. We could have afterwards [following the controversy] stated that ‘puberty consists of performing religious duties such as praying, and that was what was meant [by the definitions].’ This is why Diyanet needs to speaks out, a Diyanet that does not take [others] as a model, but rather is itself a model,” he said.