Turkey’s top religious official retires from his post

Turkey’s top religious official retires from his post

Turkey’s top religious official retires from his post Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez retired from his post on July 31.

“The Diyanet should not live the embarrassment of being 40 years late [in struggle] against any perverted religious structure once more,” Görmez said on Aug. 1 in his farewell speech, referring to the Gülen network, which the government accuses of orchestrating the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. 

But he warned against collective punishment of other religious groups.

“But religious institutions and organizations that are merely well-intentioned and that raise faithful individuals should not be confused with such structures [Gülen network],” he added. 

He stressed that the most important duty of the Diyanet from now on was to fight against Islamophobia.

Diyanet struggled against “poisonous” movements emerging in the Muslim world like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), Görmez said. 

His retirement request was accepted by the Turkish Prime Ministry.

Ekrem Keleş, who chairs the High Council of Religious Affairs, will serve as the directorate’s interim chief until Görmez’s successor is appointed. Görmez, 58, was appointed to the post in November 2010.    

“After the duty as head of the Diyanet, the only post we will demand will be science,” Görmez said on July 26 when asked by reporters if he would leave.

His announcement came after he and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a meeting on July 24, which was interpreted as a sign of him leaving his post.

“Mr. Görmez had a request, a wish to continue with a different post in the future,” Erdoğan said on the same day, while adding the necessary steps had not been taken on the issue.