Turkish professor apologizes after calling non-praying citizens ‘animals’
ISTANBULAn Islamic theologian has apologized after drawing an angry reaction for calling those who do not perform Islamic prayers “animals” live on Turkey’s state broadcaster, while claiming that his words were “distorted.”
“I apologize for my words, which involuntarily went beyond my purpose during the ‘Ramazan Sevinci’ [Joy of Ramadan] program I attended on TRT. My words were misunderstood. The words of those who draw different interpretations from my words are their own concern,” Professor Mustafa Aşkar said.
Serdar Tuncer, the presenter of the program, apologized on TRT Haber for Aşkar’s words, which he described as “unacceptable.”
During a live broadcast on TRT on June 12, Aşkar said Muslims who do not perform Islamic prayers are “animals.”
“Let no one be offended, but I will say it firmly, as the verse says it: Animals do not perform prayers, and those who do not perform prayers are animals,” he said, referring to a Quranic verse on the issue.
Aşkar’s words drew reactions from the country’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) as well as a number of politicians.
The Diyanet said in a statement that Aşkar’s words “unacceptable for any sensible Muslim, let alone an academic theologian.”
İsmet Demirdöğen, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) member of Turkey’s media watchdog Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), said people with such thoughts should get medical “treatment.”
Addressing to his party’s parliamentary group on June 4, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli stressed that the words were against “togetherness and brotherliness.”
“If there are brawls in mosque courtyards in Turkey and people who do not pray are accused of being animals, I ask you how we can live together and with brotherliness,” Bahçeli said.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Co-Chair İdris Baluken also condemned Aşkar, saying it was nobody’s right to question other people’s faith.
“This is hate speech. Interrogating people through their religion and insulting them through that discrimination is a crime,” Baluken said.