What about the muezzin’s lifestyle?

What about the muezzin’s lifestyle?

Mehmet Kuzgun, the muezzin of İzmir’s Narlıdere Yalvaç Mosque was assaulted after he recited the “sala” (a special call to prayer) on the night of July 15. The release of his attackers pending trial drew an angry reaction from members of the public and a renewed detention order was issued. 

Some are calling on those who condemned the release of the man who physically assaulted a nurse on a public bus to also speak out over the release of the attackers of the muezzin.

Are they not right? 

I also protested when the attacker of nurse Ayşegül Terzi, who assaulted her for wearing a skirt, was initially released. He was arrested again when the nature of the accusation changed. He is now being tried for “deliberate injury” and also for “interfering into someone’s lifestyle,” which was introduced to the Penal Code in 2014. 

Can the same clause be applied to the case of the assaulted muezzin, who was attacked because he recited the sala? The attackers are charged with “attempting to change the constitutional order,” “deliberate injury” and “insult.” 

The incident was recorded by the security camera of the mosque. Three people, one of them a man, approached the muezzin in front of the mosque and started arguing with him. A woman broke the glass at the entrance with a stone. Then she attacked the muezzin. 

Will this only be considered as a case of preventing the muezzin from doing his job? Will it simply be considered deliberate injury and insult to a civil servant? Or should be moved further, considering whether the attack was motivated by support for the coup attempt? Or should it be considered interference in the lifestyle of the muezzin because of his faith? 

If you ask me, my answer would be “Yes, the attack on the muezzin for reciting the sala amounts to interference in his lifestyle.” 

Let us look at the third paragraph of Clause 115 of the Turkish Penal Code. It criminalizes, “by force or threat, interference in lifestyle preferences or forced changing of a person’s lifestyle stemming from belief, thought or opinion.” 

Is the act defined here present in the attack on the muezzin? Let’s discuss this incident just as we discussed the Ayşegül Terzi assault. 

Preventing a potential crisis 

Let’s think back to not so long ago, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a critical statement to Arab TV stations. He said that if the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his friends were freed then Turkey’s relations with Egypt would normalize. He was not categorically rejecting the forming of any relations without that condition being fulfilled. He was not rejecting all relations if the Sisi coup regime remained in power. 

If Erdoğan’s condition had been accepted, both Turkey and Egypt would have won. What’s more, Morsi and his allies facing the death penalty in prison would also have won. Even though it was not accepted, Erdoğan would have done whatever he could. 

In Iraq, however, the stiches in our relations with Baghdad are being torn. 

The Iraqi Parliament has demanded that we vacate the Bashiqa Camp in northern Iraq. It wants our troops to withdraw from Iraqi territory. The Arab League also previously issued a similar statement, defining our military presence in Bashiqa as a threat to Arab national security and Iraq’s territorial integrity. 

We are facing the Egypt initiative and the Iraq dilemma at the same time. But it is not enough to hold Iran responsible for Iraq’s stance on Bashiqa. Our Foreign Ministry should not settle for just scolding Iraq over its parliament’s demand - it should also start a preemptive diplomatic attack on the Arab League front.