Sons of the devil, and St. Paul’s city

Sons of the devil, and St. Paul’s city

One of Turkey’s most popular Islamic preachers is Nihat Hatipoğlu, a professor of theology who runs a top-rated TV show. Some of the questions his pious audience asked him during an episode last year included:

- Can a pregnant woman have her hair cut?
- Does keeping a cat as a pet bring bad luck?
- Does Satan have a father and a mother?
- Is a woman having her period allowed to cook?
- I shall give birth soon and I have a pet cat at home. Is it religiously permissible to put the cat to death?
- Is it religiously forbidden to stand up and drink water?
- Is a 3G wedding permissible in Islam? (No idea what a 3G wedding is.)
- Does swimming amount to praying?
- If I go to Heaven, do I have to put up with my spouse there?

A fortnight ago, Professor Hatipoğlu declared: “The atheists’ greatest father is the devil ... [But] even the devil does not deny God ... So the devil is purer than atheists.” I have never been lucky enough to be in one of his TV audiences and have a chance to ask him questions. Perhaps I should take the liberty now:

- If atheists are sons of the devil, who are the jihadists who kill en masse every day, mostly Muslims, especially in countries in Turkey’s vicinity?
- Does the devil have children other than atheists? If so, who are they?
- Is a cheating, killing, torturing Muslim rapist purer than an honest, law-abiding atheist?

I recommend that readers visit my (ex-) sparring partner Mustafa Akyol’s excellent piece on Professor Hatipoğlu’s newly-invented unholy duality of the devil and the atheist (Are atheists ‘sons of devil?’ HDN, Aug. 16, 2014).

As former Israeli President Shimon Peres once said: “When holiness begins, reason ends.” Meanwhile, Mr. Peres’ lands also exhibited “holiness” last week. 

“Death to Arabs,” shouted an angry crowd, protesting and trying to violently prevent the wedding of a bride who had converted from Judaism to Islam and a Muslim groom.

According to the protesters, who apparently belonged to the radical group Lehava, the bride was a “traitor against the Jewish state.” They also sang a song that urged, “May your village burn down.” Lehava spokesman and former lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari denounced Jews intermarrying with non-Jews of any denomination as “worse than what Hitler did.”

Is it not amazing how precisely common the jargon that the religious and/or ethnic nationalists resort to is in every corner of this part of the world? It’s as if they are one single tribe, only divided by different ethnicities and religions. Their speech writer must be the same man, perhaps the greatest father of atheists.

Almost every Turk tends to accuse the other of being a traitor. For half of Turks, President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies are traitors; and for the other half secular, not-so-pious, atheist, liberal and nationalist Turks are traitors. But all Turks agree that what Israel does today surpasses what Hitler did in the past. For the Lehava brain, an intermarriage is worse than what Hitler did in the past. Brilliant times.

Then, of course, there is Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki. In 2012, His Eminence advised against Greeks watching Turkish soap operas, which he said “insulted and challenged our consciousness.” Back then, the usual speech writer was probably too busy writing speeches further eastward of Anthimos’ holy land that he failed to remind the Metropolitan to say that watching Turkish soap operas amounted to treason, and that Turkish soap operas were doing worse than what Hitler did in the past.

After the Greeks quietly ignored his advice on Turkish soap operas, Anthimos, most recently, launched a campaign against Turkish tourists, the restoration of historical mosques, and the Department of Islamic Studies at a university in Thessaloniki, thinking, no doubt, that all of this would be treason and worse than what Hitler did in the past.

This columnist has no means to know whether Anthimos wrote his latest speech himself or hired “someone familiar,” but his words did not sound too unfamiliar. That will be next Wednesday.