Religious leaders try to persuade skeptics to get vaccinated

Religious leaders try to persuade skeptics to get vaccinated

Religious leaders try to persuade skeptics to get vaccinated

An initiative has been launched by local religious community leaders to encourage people to get vaccinated in time as authorities are concerned about growing vaccine hesitancy among people who have refused to get jabbed even though their turn has come.

Local religious leaders, known as mele in Turkey’s east, have been trying to persuade people who have grown skeptical towards getting vaccinated especially as eastern provinces mostly lack behind with vaccination rates compared to the rest of the country.

Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Tayyip Elçi, chairman of the Madrasah Scholars Foundation (MEDAV), called on all citizens to be vaccinated.

Pointing out that the opinions of experts should be respected in order to reach a decision on any issue in Islamic law, Elçi said that it is necessary to act in line with the decision made by specialist doctors since the coronavirus is a medical issue.

“We encourage and invite everyone to get vaccinated as religious officials, preachers, scholars, and opinion leaders,” Elçi said, stressing the necessity of every citizen to be vaccinated in order to protect himself and society from this disease.

“The fact that Diyarbakir and the eastern and southeastern Anatolia provinces are still red when we look at the map, that is, the areas where the least vaccination is administered, really offends us,” he added.

Data from the Health Ministry show that only 35 percent of the population aged above 18 have received the first shot of vaccine in the eastern province of Bitlis, while the corresponding rates are 36 percent in Şanlıurfa province and a little over 37 percent in Mardin province.

These provinces are followed by neighboring Siirt, Diyarbakır, Muş, Batman and Bingöl.

Sadullah Ergün, a religious scholar at the Imam Nevevi Madrasa, also called on everyone to get vaccinated against coronavirus, wishing to get rid of this disease as soon as possible.

“It is also a duty to take precautions against this disease that has spread all over the world. Social distancing and masks should be observed and in-door environments should be avoided,” Ergün said, adding that the religion of Islam recommends medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the provinces with the highest increase in the number of cases in the last week were Siirt, Diyarbakır, Bitlis, Giresun and Iğdır.

Reminding that there is a relationship between the increase in the number of cases and vaccination rates, Koca once again urged citizens to be vaccinated and to comply with the measures.

Since the start of the inoculation drive on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered nearly 69.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with over 24.8 million people now fully vaccinated.

Koca stated on July 28 that the number of people who had only one dose of the vaccine exceeded 40 million.