Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate launches probe into imam campaigning for ‘yes’
Meltem Özgenç - ANKARAReligious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez has warned imams “not to engage in politics in mosques,” as an investigation was launched on Feb. 7 into an imam who called for a “yes” vote in the constitutional referendum.
“Any word that could be controversial among the people in their daily lives, or that could create discrimination in people’s hearts, cannot be uttered in mosques,” Görmez said on Feb. 7.
He was referring to footage that emerged of Hüseyin Güleç, the imam of the Modoko Mosque in Istanbul’s Ümraniye district, addressing fellow imams and calling for a “yes” vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system of government.
Görmez warned the imams against using “discriminatory rhetoric” and said investigations would be opened if they were found conducting political campaigning.
“Religious services should be valued above political differences. Religious services, which are a shared value, should be embracing and inviting of peace. Religion cannot be part of any ideology,” he added, warning imams that religion “should not be a part of politics.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gürsel Tekin had filed a parliamentary question about the controversial imam Güleç, saying “this man may be an imam but he cannot be a believer.”
In his Feb. 7 speech, Görmez also criticized a video circulating on social media that showed a group of turban-wearing men declaring that they would vote “yes” in the referendum, stating that the group was not affiliated with the Diyanet.