Turkey's PM Davutoğlu: Attack on religious body no coincidence
AĞRI, TurkeyMay 07, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by May 07, 2015 12:00 am
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs has come under criticism and "attacks" as the body and its head have both gained a greater reputation in the Muslim world recently.
Davutoğlu made the remarks during a live interview on a joint broadcast of private Kanal7-Ülke TV at Ishak Paşa Palace in the eastern Ağrı province where he held an election rally earlier in the day.
"If some attack the religious body and its chief while we have taken such an extensive mission [in the world], it is not only an attack on the government," he said.
He was criticizing the opposition parties' recent remarks targeting the top religious body, mainly the leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition People's Democratic Party or HDP - Selahattin Demirtaş - who promised in his party's election manifesto to abolish the Presidency of Religious Affairs if they come to power after the June general elections.
The premier emphasized that the "attacks also target the moderate voice that comes out of Turkey during a time when Islam is identified with terror, Shia-Sunni tensions and other issues like extravagance and underestimation."
"The religious body has become the representative of the Muslim world, which also means an antidote for threats like ISIS, along with ethnic and sectarian conflicts," he added.
Last week, Davutoğlu also lashed out at pro-Kurdish party leader Demirtaş for comparing Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square to Islam's most sacred monument, the Kaaba in Mecca.
Another criticism in Turkish media reports was leveled against Turkey's head of religious affairs Mehmet Görmez, alleging that he had bought a Mercedes worth one million Turkish lira ($368,500).
Görmez announced on Monday that he will return the official luxurious car, which was allegedly bought for his use, saying, "We will return it to set an example."
The report created controversy and questions were raised over whether the head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs should receive such an expensive car.
The Presidency of Religious Affairs had denied the report and said that the car had been bought using money from the Turkish Diyanet Foundation's budget, which came under the religious affairs.
"This car is a grave for me and I do not want to enter a grave," Görmez said, adding that he had not used the car for "a single day."