80 Turkish universities to have mosques, top religious body head says

80 Turkish universities to have mosques, top religious body head says

80 Turkish universities to have mosques, top religious body head says

This file photo shows a mosque built in the campus of Bitlis Eren University, in the eastern province of Bitlis. DHA Photo

Turkey is planning to build 80 mosques inside university campuses across the country, Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez has announced.

“Mosque constructions are ongoing at more than 80 universities in Turkey. We have opened 15 mosques [inside Turkish university campuses] so far. We will open 50 more by the end of 2015,” said Görmez, according to the semi-official Anadolu Agency.

“There are around 20 million young people in Turkey. We want to reach this young population. We attach importance to mosques inside the university campuses, where religious clerics will communicate with young people. We want the youth to have spiritual development and have access to mosques,” he added.

The Diyanet head also said they intended to “institutionalize” university mosques, making them “more than worshiping houses.”

“These mosques should not be places that opens before prayers and closes after prayers. We want them to be institutionalized,” Görmez said.

In April this year the Diyanet made headlines by opening a mosque in the campus of the Erzurum Atatürk University, in the eastern province of Erzurum. Görmez spoke at the opening ceremony of the mosque, saying the Diyanet was pioneering the construction of many more mosques in Turkish university campuses.

“Places of worship and universities have always been together throughout history. Universities came out of temples in history. Temples and universities cannot be separate,” Görmez said at the opening ceremony on April 19.

Meanwhile, on Sept 17, Tunceli University Rector Prof. Dr. Durmuş Boztuğ announced that his university would build both a mosque and a cemevi, an Alevi place of worship, on campus.

Speaking to the Doğan News Agency, Bozdağ recalled that there were mescids in many university campuses across Turkey, but there was no Turkish university with a cemevi on campus.

“Our project will be a first in Turkey,” said Boztuğ.