Turkey’s top cleric: Secularism threw world into total war
Secularism has thrown the world into a total war by outstripping the level of violence that stemmed from religious conflict, Turkey’s top cleric has argued while criticizing some analyses of the recent spate of jihadist attacks.
“Humanity set off on a different quest with the French Revolution. It envisaged building a more secular world separate from religion. But secularism sent the world into a total war by also superseding the amount of violence that stemmed from religions,” Mehmet Görmez, the president of the Directorate General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said Dec. 14.
“People were thus able to imagine an atomic bomb with scientific explorations. They produced chemical weapons and several times the number of people who died in wars throughout history have died during wars in modern times. Two great world wars occurred and now a Third World War is being mentioned. Such a sentence can roll off the tongue of even the Honorable Pope,” Görmez also said in reference to Pope Francis’ interpretation of the Nov. 13 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on Paris that killed 130 people.
His remarks came during a meeting in Ankara with the U.S. State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik H. Zafar.
“Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction,” the pope said at the time.
Görmez, meanwhile, joined the chorus against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country, saying no nation or religious group had the right to ignore the consequences of terrorist violence and wars.
“In a country like America, candidates are able to hold discussions before the election, saying, ‘We might let Muslims into America or we might not.’ It is not right for any nation or the member of any religion to blame another,” Görmez said.
“We are suffering grave problems in this region. We are not suffering these problems just because of what terrorist organizations have been doing as in the case of groups like Daesh that have appeared recently,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
“Each of these is a result, but not a reason. The first reason for all of these has particularly been the transformation of this region into a conflict zone for global powers. At the end of the wars first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, Bosnia and Chechnya, many generations who were deprived of education and who grew up under the shadow of violence and savagery emerged,” Görmez said.
“On one side, migrations started out well. These migrants couldn’t integrate into the countries they went to. They built their own ghettoes and they were ‘otherized.’ They couldn’t find the opportunity to learn about their religion. Moreover, they started following the wrong interpretations. An affinity has emerged between the children of migrant generations who learned religion in an incorrect way and young people who grew up under the shadow of violence in that region. These generations have chosen to hold onto religion as an ideology,” he said.