Ministers get in line to sing Diyanet praises

Ministers get in line to sing Diyanet praises

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
EU Minister Egemen Bağış hailed the recent performance of the Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) yesterday while suggesting that those looking to understand the importance of Diyanet for the country should head to Mecca for Hajj and compare the situation of Turkish pilgrims with others.

“Let those who are curious about to what extent Diyanet is an important institution for [Turkey] go to Hajj. Let them compare the situation of pilgrim candidates from other countries with the situation of Turkish pilgrim candidates, then they will also arrive at the point where they say, ‘Fortunately, there is Diyanet,’” Bağış said at a meeting with Diyanet’s Chief Mehmet Görmez.

Bağış claimed to have personally observed the differences present in this situation and said they were grateful to Görmez for this.

Bağış’s remarks came when a reporter brought up debates favoring the annulment of the Diyanet. In response to the reporter’s question, Görmez said they would shortly announce a survey on social contentment which was jointly conducted with Gazi University. “The picture that emerged there shows that almost 90 percent of our nation believes that Diyanet is a very important institution,” Görmez said.

Bağış’s praise of the institution came only a day after Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said that the budget allocated to Diyanet should not be discussed and described Diyanet as the building block for unity and togetherness in the country. Diyanet’s budget was increased by 18.3 percent for the year 2013 when compared to the previous year. Accordingly, Diyanet takes 1.1 percent of the government’s total budget for 2013.

In 2012, 3.9 billion Turkish Liras from the budget were allocated to Diyanet and this figure was higher than the total budget allocated to four ministries. In 2012, the total budget allocated to the EU Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Energy Ministry and Environment Ministry was 3.8 billion liras.