Turkish PM calls on non-Muslims to confront Islamophobia
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Religious Affair Directorate (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez (L) and Patriarch Bartholomew (R) attended lunch with PM Davutoğlu (C) in Istanbul.Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on Turkey’s non-Muslim community leaders to "raise their voice" against Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination during a meeting in Istanbul on Jan. 2.
“When we raise our voice against Islamophobia altogether, then we do not only stand against discrimination against Muslims, but we raise our voice against discrimination against all religious identities,” said Davutoğlu ahead of a lunch with religious leaders in Istanbul. He also condemned recent attacks on mosques in a number of European states.
Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew; Deputy Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan; Chief Rabbi İshak Haleva; Istanbul Syriac Orthodox Church Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin; Turkish Ambassador to the Vatican Mehmet Paçacı; Monsignor Yusuf Sağ, patriarchal vicar of Turkey for Syrians; and Levon Zekiyan of the Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Archieparchy of Istanbul, all participated in the lunch at the prime ministerial office in Dolmabahçe Palace.
Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez, Istanbul Mufti Rahmi Yaran and Foundations General Manager Adnan Ertem were also present at the lunch.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu said he hesitated to use the term “minority” as he did not regard any “tradition that has lived in these lands” as foreign.
“We are all part of a big family and members of established traditions. These two weeks are meaningful as they contained significant days for all these traditions,” said Davutoğlu, referring to Mevlid Kandil, which was to be celebrated Jan. 2, as well as Christmas and Hannukah.
The prime minister also emphasized the importance of equal citizenship in Turkey, saying the state had never regarded any difference between its citizens.
Davutoğlu said he would come together with religious leaders more often in the future and discuss their mutual culture.
“We have to stand with determination against those who discriminate or pressure people because of their faith. This would be the best legacy we could leave to the next generation,” he added.
He also stressed that the government had passed a number of reforms during its period in office to honor the rights of religious minorities, including facilitating the return of previously confiscated lands.