First mufti marriage performed in Turkey’s southeast
A mufti in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır conducted a legal marriage on Nov. 16, the first time after a controversial bill passed in parliament authorized religious officials from the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to conduct marriages.
Ahmet Durmuş, the mufti of Diyarbakır’s Bismil district, performed the marriage of Özlem Sevim and Mehmet Emin.
A contentious legal article allowing muftis to perform and register marriages was published in the Official Gazette on Nov. 3, formally legalizing the regulation after it was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Thirty other couples were married by muftis in a mass wedding ceremony held in Bismil.
Durmuş urged couples to have at least five children, a campaign long encouraged by Erdoğan.
“I, as a father of eight children, urge you to have at least five children,” he said, adding that he was excited to be performing a legal marriage for the first time.
“Everyone had concerns that children would be married off. We, like government officials, will perform marriages with the authority the law gives us. So, we can never perform the marriages of children. It is not possible for us to perform an illegal wedding,” he said.
The article, which was approved by parliament on Oct. 18 amid fierce objections from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has thus now officially gone into effect.
The bill, titled “Draft Law on the Amendment of the Civil Registry Services Act and Some Other Laws,” had passed in parliament with support from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The bill had been submitted to parliament on July 25, drawing strong criticism from opposition parties and women’s rights groups.
The law previously assigned state registrars in local municipalities to record all marriages.
Critics of the new regulation argue that it will pave the way for “unrecorded marriages” and “child marriages.” They also say it violates the secular principles of Turkey’s civil code and will compromise the civil rights of women, including the right to divorce and heredity.