Turkey’s top religious official backs reopening of Halki Seminary ‘in principle’
AA photoNo religious minority group in Turkey should have to look abroad to educate its religious clerics, Directorate General of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez said on Feb. 28, expressing lukewarm support for the reopening of the Halki Seminary.
“In principal, no religious minority group living on this land should need other countries to educate its own clerics,” Görmez said when asked about whether he supported the reopening of the Halki Seminary, a historical Greek Orthodox school in Istanbul, during an interview with private broadcaster CNN Türk.
Halki Seminary, a property of the Orthodox Church, was founded in 1844 on the island of Heybeliada in the Marmara Sea off Istanbul. It has been closed since 1971 as a result of that year’s Private University Law.
Görmez also commented on demands from minority religious representatives to receive a share of the Diyanet budget for their places of worship.
“Even a religious minority formed of just three people should have the same rights as the majority in terms of freedom of religion and providing their own religious education. This is not a requirement of democracy or modern times, it is a requirement of Islam,” he said.
The Diyanet head also addressed the question of the relationship between politics and religion, describing it as a “dilemma.”
“When religion is above politics, politicians start to define themselves against religion; but when politics is above religion, holy values are used as instruments,” Görmez said.