Muslim world also responsible for rise of Islamophobia, says former religious body head
Ahmet Hakan ISTANBUL
Former Religious Affairs Directorate (L) head Ali Bardakoğlu tells Ahmet Hakan that some members of the Muslim community contribute to the rise of Islamophobia around the world. HÜRRİYET PhotoThe former head of Turkey’s top religious body has accused Muslims of contributing to the rise of Islamophobia around the world, while lamenting the declining number of pious people in Turkey.
Former Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Bardakoğlu accused "some members" of the Muslim community of contributing to the rise of Islamophobia around the world.
“Those who represent Islam play a large role and bear responsibility for the rise of Islamophobia against Muslims. But the main responsibility is on the shoulders of Islam’s intellectuals,” Bardakoğlu said in an interview published on Jan. 14 in daily Hürriyet.
“One reason is that Islamic intellectuals have helped raise a society with such problems. The second is that some of these intellectuals have kept silent,” he said, claiming that these factors had increased the number of "reactionary people whose behavior is controlled by their feelings."
Bardakoğlu, who served as Diyanet head between 2003 and 2010, called on the Muslim world to look in the mirror and correct its mistakes in order to combat Islamophobia.
“There is violence, clashes between sects and bombings of mosques in the Islamic world. Sunni and Shiite religious leaders have not been able to come together and take action against this. On the contrary, they announce fatwas which legitimize their own sect members’ actions. All of these actions add to the problem,” he said.
Bardakoğlu also lamented that Turkey and Islamic countries are becoming more and more world-oriented through the rise of religious communities and groups, while claiming that the number of sincerely moral and pious people is on the decline.
“The claim that Turkey is becoming more religious is not true. One can think that religiosity is on the rise when considering the forms, symbols, religious words and concepts used. But I can say that we have declined when religious sincerity and morality expressed by the people is taken into account,” he added.
“Turkey and Islamic countries are rapidly becoming more world-oriented. Religious groups and communities are world-focused bodies. They are investing in this world with what they have collected on behalf of religion,” said Bardakoğlu.
“We should give individuals the opportunity to have a mental connection with the Quran and Islam,” the former Diyanet head said, adding that this method would allow individuals to "understand Islam in their own way." He also criticized "making religion into an ideology" and having it compete against other ideologies.
Speaking on the recent attack on French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, Bardakoğlu said it was unthinkable that a Muslim would not be hurt by caricatures that insult the Prophet Muhammad, but "the reaction should be within the scope of the law."
“One cannot expect them to keep silent. However, the reaction should be within the scope of the law. Violence is unacceptable. Even counter-insults are unacceptable,” he said.