The holy pollster

The holy pollster

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) is so rich (its budget surpasses that of a dozen ministries combined) that it regularly produces data for social and political sciences.

In a poll it carried out last year, its pollsters asked Turks a set of entertaining questions, including:

- Do you play loto (a football betting game)?
- When you visit a friend’s home, do men and women sit in separate rooms?
- Is it a sin to drink but not to get drunk?
- Do you use bank loans on interest?
- Do you tell small lies?
- Do you cover your head when you go out?
- Do you think angels visit homes where inhabitants keep dogs as pets?
- How devout is your family?
- Do you consider a political candidate’s piety when voting?

In July, Diyanet released the findings of another research for which it polled 21,632 Turks – an unusually large sample size. Some of the findings are even more entertaining than the questions asked in last year’s poll. Some findings are not interesting at all. For instance, at times like this when even Satan, out of fear, would say he is a devout Muslim to any government pollster, Diyanet found that 99.2 percent of Turks are Muslims.

Moreover, we learned that 87.5 percent of Turks were either “devout” or “very devout.” Similarly, 87.1 percent said they raise their children in line with “Islamic sensitivities.” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should be proud.

It was good to learn from Diyanet that more than 78 percent of Turks thought it was a big sin to lie. That must explain why Turks almost never lie. I smiled, though, when I learned from the survey that nearly 42 percent of Turks are capable of reading the Quran in Arabic. If you consider the percentage of Turks who can speak other foreign languages, you could easily conclude that almost all Turks speak at least one foreign language. Isn’t that lovely?

But Turks think there is a bigger sin than lying. A good 87.6 percent think that drinking alcohol amounts to sinning. Years ago another poll found that a mere less than 10 percent of Turks consumed alcohol, and I drank to that!

How do Turks select their spouses? Diyanet has found out. Nearly 70 percent of Turks say their prime criteria in selecting a spouse is religiousness. That may explain the rapidly increasing divorce rates.

Last year Diyanet asked Turks whether men and women sat in separate rooms during visits to the homes of their family and friends. Now it has an answer. Nearly 60 percent of Turks say men and women never or very rarely sit together. If that is the nation’s popular wish, would the government not consider introducing male and female chambers in Parliament?

But I was most amused by two particular findings. Nearly three quarters of Turks think that violating traffic rules would amount to one of Islam’s two unforgivable sins (a human being violating another human being’s rights). This is good news, but alarming all the same. Judging from the daily traffic scenes, statistics on violations and record number of fatalities due to violations, one should suspect that Turkey must have been invaded by tens of millions of infidels.

It must be the same infidels who make Turkey’s official gambling market run higher and higher every day. Tens of thousands of betting and lottery shops scattered throughout the country, and billions of dollars in annual revenues… Millions of lottery players every week… But Diyanet’s research has found out that 82.5 percent of Turks say they never play any kind of lottery, gambling or betting.

I knew I was right when I recently wrote “Chastitystan” in this column. The Turks are devout Muslims who don’t mix men with women at family gatherings; who can read the Quran in Arabic; choose their spouses on the basis of devoutness; don’t drink alcohol; don’t violate traffic rules; and don’t play betting games or lottery. Ah, most importantly, they don’t lie.