By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In another sign of what formerly was a secular state that is now becoming more Islamist, the Religious Affairs Leader of Turkey, Mehmet Görmez, announced his department was constructing eighty mosques at various universities countrywide.
The Article 136 of the Turkish Constitution does provide for an official department, The Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, as it is known by formal name, “to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshiping places.” After the dismantling of the caliphate in 1924, the department was formed.
Under Turkey’s former President Abdulla Gül who served from 2007 to August of 2014, the nation began separating from its secular practices. The latest announcement could be a sign that the government wishes to further instill Islam into the social fabric of future generations; beyond what was a long standing leaning toward separation of government and religion.
The President Gül, began his career as a staunch political Islamist while attending University.
A political party he later became a member, the Islamist Welfare Party, was banned in the 1990’s for its anti-secular practices, yet he joined a more moderate branch known as the Virtue Party.
When Gül visited the Diyanet in 2012 he is quoted as remarking:
“It is undoubtedly one of the most important duties of the Religious Affairs Directorate to teach our religion to our people in the most correct, clear and concise way and steer them away from superstition.”
It had been thirty three years since a President of Turkey made such a visit.
The Diyanet could be advancing beyond its statutory charter by blurring separation of church and state lines by constructing mosques in what is often a secular institution, the universities. Its president was quite open in declaring its intentions that would in the more secular West be considered concerning in public universities:
“There are around 20 million young people in Turkey. We would like to reach out young people. We care about the campus mosques in the city. In these mosques, youngsters will have religious workers assigned to work with them. We would like to see them grow in the spiritual sense and benefit from mosques.
We want to leave behind the times that mosques are only used during prayers and then left out completely. There are several mosques in Turkey that can set an example.”
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.