Bundestag to host Turkey’s religious figure

Bundestag to host Turkey’s religious figure

Bundestag to host Turkey’s religious figure

The head of Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Görmez (R) holds a joint press conference with Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al-ash Sheikh. AA photo

Amidst debates over the ongoing criminalization of male circumcision in Germany, head of the Directorate-General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Prof. Mehmet Görmez said he will deliver a speech at Bundestag upon an invitation, while emphasizing that his speech will not necessarily focus on the value of circumcision from a religious perspective.

Görmez held a joint press conference following talks with Saudi Arabia’s minister of Islamic affairs, Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al-ash Sheikh.

Görmez will go to Bundestag to deliver a speech that he said will focus on his objection against the banning of religious symbols and that the place of circumcision in Islam will not be the focus of his speech.

“In a contemporary state, parliaments, politicians and lawyers cannot judge and ban religious practices that include Islamic symbols,” Görmez said.

In June, a Cologne court ruled that the removal of the foreskin for religious reasons amounted to grievous bodily harm and was therefore illegal. After heavy criticism, German lawmakers passed a cross-party motion to protect circumcision.

Although the ban applied only to the Cologne region, doctors across the country refused to carry out operations because of what they saw as a risk of legal action. Berlin became the first of Germany’s states to protect the practice while the national government works on a new law to legalize the operation across the country and overrule the Cologne decision.

About four million Muslims and more than 200,000 Jews live in Germany and practice religious circumcision. Görmez also criticized violent protests about the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocks the Prophet Muhammad, while underlining that such protests feed Islamophobia. He stated that such attacks and humiliation to sacred values shouldn’t be seen as freedom of expression.

Collective consciousness

“There is also a need for collective consciousness among Muslim population to react correctly against such negative issues,” Görmez said.

At the same conference Saudi minister Sheikh stated that the two countries will cooperate on joint education of the issue. “Some research centers and some media are not aware of the realities of Islam. We have to defend our prophet through them. There is a need for awakening people to learn our prophet’s way of life perfectly,” he said in Arabic, remarks translated into Turkish through an interpreter on hand for the conference.

As the annual Hajj season will start soon, Sheikh answered a question concerning prospects of a sectarian conflict when millions converge in Mecca. He stated that they have taken all necessary precautions to avoid any sectarian conflict. “Hajj cannot be a tool for any political and sectarian issue. Hajj is only for God,” he said and stated that they can guarantee the security of pilgrims.