President Erdoğan attaches new honor to top religious leader
The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Mehmet Görmez (L) with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Çankaya Palace in Ankara, Sept. 19. AA PhotoThe head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) was included in this week’s list of top names hosted by the president every Thursday, in a break with previous custom.
Diyanet President Mehmet Görmez visited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 18, after the status of the directorate was changed by the new government founded after the Aug. 10 elections, bringing the Diyanet under the direct subordination of the prime minister, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Sept. 19.
Erdoğan had tried in 2011 and 2012, when he was still prime minister, to improve the status of the Diyanet on the state protocol list from 47th to 10th, which is above the Cabinet ministers and the chief of the army. However, these changes were rejected by the by-then President Abdullah Gül, Cumhuriyet also reported.
Erdoğan also hosted Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel on Sept 18.
Speaking on Sept. 4, Davutoğlu said his government afforded an “international mission” to the Diyanet, also suggesting that Turkey needs to make “reforms in religion.”
His words echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent vow to “restore the Diyanet’s honor” as a key state body.
As the highest religious authority today, the Diyanet drafts the weekly sermon delivered at the nation’s 85,000 mosques, which it supervises. It also employs all of Turkey’s imams – Muslim preachers who are technically civil servants trained by the state.