A group of civil society institutions in Turkey has come together and filed a criminal complaint against head of Turkey’s Religion Affairs Presidency at Ankara chief prosecutor’s office.
'Advocates of secularism’ filed their criminal complaint against Mehmet Görmez with regards to a khutbah (Islamic sermon) written by Religion Affairs Presidency and read out at mosques on Friday (December 30) during the Friday prayer. Pointing out that the message in the khutbah included statements triggering hate and separation among the members of the public, advocates read out their complaint in front of Ankara courthouse.
Their statement was: “Before this attack (at Reina nightclub), the Religion Affairs Presidency had given a ‘Friday khutbah’ and said ‘how thought provoking it is that the first hours of a new year are turned into a waste of time through entertainment programs and activities belonging to other cultures and other worlds…’ With such statements, people who celebrate new year’s eve have been targeted… Additionally, the Religion Affairs Presidency has breached the constitutional limits of its duty and authority and directly caused emergence of a threat against public safety with this message.
Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu, former pesident of YARSAV, institution that was shut down following the coup attempt, also gave a statement and said it was ‘inevitable for all responsible officials – referring to President, Prime Minister, Ministers, and other government officials - to take the political responsibility’ and argued that they needed to resign from their duties. Eminağaoğlu added: “The massacre that has been carried out is an obvious proof of the threat.”
Presidency of Religion Affairs released a written statement, with the signature of its head Mehmet Görmez after the deadly attack, condemning the attack and stating ‘there was no difference in an attack of this sort carried out at a market or at nightclub’. Görmez also stated in the message 'the target of terror was humanity.'
People celebrating the coming of the new year at a nightclub were targeted in the recent attack and this reminded people of the recent objections in Turkey against celebration of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Such objections, made out in public through demonstrations, notices, and comments included this particular sermon of Turkey’s Religion Affairs Presidency; a week-long campaign of a pro-government newspaper (Millet Gazetesi), which carried the message of ‘Do not celebrate it (New Year’s Eve)’ to its front pages; and official notices sent to the managements of public schools ‘deeming such celebrations as to be in conflict with values and traditions of the people of Turkey and requesting from teachers and students to avoid them’.
Furthermore, there had also been a short demonstration of a group of young men in front of a mall, where they were dressed up in traditional folklore costumes and tried knocking down Santa Claus by pointing guns over his head.
On some billboards, a message against New Year's Eve and Christmas was also hung up, where one of them read as 'We are Muslims; no to Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations'.
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