A pro-government journalist has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to abandon efforts to politicize Islam, warning that such a move has the potential to destroy people’s relationship with their religion.
The warning was made by Ahmet Taşgetiren in his column in the Karar daily on Thursday.
Erdoğan, whose ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has roots in political Islam, is widely criticized for establishing a one-man rule in Turkey, particularly after the country’s switch to a presidential system of governance. He also attracts frequent criticism for using religious values as well as the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate, also known as the Diyanet, to promote his agenda.
“I would like to say something to the president. It looks like he sees the current system as one in which all elements of the state are under his control, including the judiciary and the Diyanet. This approach leads to the impression of the ‘politicization’ of the judiciary and the Diyanet. At the end of the day, he’s a president affiliated with a political party. It is very obvious that politicization of the judiciary weakens people’s confidence in it. The politicization of the religion and the Diyanet ruins people’s relationship with religion. I don’t know how it is with the judiciary, but I think you would never want this for the religion. For the religion’s sake, please,” Taşgetiren said in an open call to Erdoğan to keep his hands off Islam.
The Diyanet is one of the most controversial institutions in Turkey as it has long been criticized for promoting only Sunni Islam and for indifference to other beliefs and the needs of their followers in the country.
Although it mostly remained out of politics before the rule of AKP, the Diyanet has gained more power and influence during its time in office, and its presidents are frequently criticized for promoting the AKP’s agenda using Islamic references.
According to the results of a public survey conducted by the Konda polling company in 2019, only 15 percent of respondents described themselves as religious/conservative, down from 28 percent a decade ago. Other public surveys also show similar results, with Turks believing in God but rejecting organized religion.