Turkish President Erdoğan urges women, children to go to mosques
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the staff of Turkey’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) on Oct. 4, to encourage women and children to become accustomed to going to mosques.
Erdoğan said there was a “taboo” against women and men praying together in mosques.
“There are mentalities that show this as Islam. But we need to get rid of these. These wrong taboos need to be destroyed now. And this needs to be done by the president of Diyanet. If the deputy president of Diyanet is currently a woman, that is a sign such taboos are being destroyed,” he said.
The president made the comments while addressing clerics at the Presidential Complex at a meeting marking “Mosques and Religious Officials Week.”
“It is my personal duty to encourage open discussion of all questions related to religion and mosques in this country,” Erdoğan said.
“Is there a verse or hadith [in the Quran] that bars women from going to mosques?” he said.
“I have never heard of it or have read of such a thing. My tutors have never taught me anything like that. These false beliefs must be dispelled,” said the president.
Erdoğan noted the first week of October has been celebrated as “Mosques and Religious Officials Week” since 1986.
“We gladly follow these events, aimed at boosting our children and women’s interest in our mosques,” he said.
“A society cannot maintain its existence if its ties to its civilizational values have been weakened just as is the case of a tree whose roots have been severed. Religion, wisdom, morality and justice are load-bearing pillars that support us as a nation,” Erdoğan said.
The president pointed out that turning mosques merely into houses of prayer would be the one of the worst things that could be done.
“In my eyes, a mosque is empty without our children’s joy, our youth’s excitement, our elderly’s experience, our women’s grace and dexterity. If we are to build the future, we should encourage a mosque-centered life,” he said.
“Youth have refrained themselves [from going to] mosques as time passes by. If youth are looking for a solution to their [lives] slipping away in places other than mosques, there is something wrong. Many of us allocate much more time to TV or mobile phones than their partners or parents. And our religious lives are also becoming affected by this process,” Erdoğan said.
“The language of sermons and khutbas should be updated, renewed and refined for youth to understand. Also, our religious officials should avoid otherizing and alienating expressions in all forms and kinds,” the president said.
Erdoğan also said false beliefs about Islam have been used by certain terrorist groups to exploit people’s faith and Diyanet needed to step in to dispel such beliefs.
“The reason why groups such as FETÖ and Daesh [another acronym for ISIL] could gain a foothold in a society is because there are spiritual gaps, which our institutions fail to fill,” he added.