Turkish Chess Federation Sues Muslim Cleric Over Comments

chess_piece_-_black_queenThe decline of free speech around the world is accelerating at such a rate that it can produce truly disorienting effects. Take the latest lawsuit by the Turkish Chess Federation (TSF). Chess players were the target of an Islamic extremist televangelist who told Muslims that playing chess is more sinful than gambling. It was yet another absurd declaration from a religious fanatic that should be answered with mocking disbelief. Instead, TSF moved from being a victim to being a violator with a lawsuit against Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, popularly known as “Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca” (Robbed Ahmet Hoca). The group reportedly began “legal proceedings” over the comments, which should be protected as an exercise of free speech.

Various media outlets quotes Ünlü of stating that chess players were “cursed” and that “most people who played chess are liars.” He added that “Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork … People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada [declaration of Islamic belief] while they are dying.”

The TSF appears to have turned to the courts to enforce its view of the truth rather than rely on free speech to answer the ridiculous charges. If true, it is a disappointing example of one person trying to coerce neighbors into silence that is met by a legal action attempting to do the same thing.

13 thoughts on “Turkish Chess Federation Sues Muslim Cleric Over Comments

  1. If not invented by Muslims (maybe, maybe not), wasn’t chess popularized and introduced into the western world by Muslims, i.e., the Moors in Spain?

  2. Funnily enough, when Christopher Hitchens released God Is Not Great, many people whined that his sub-title, How Religion Poisons Everything, was some wild overstatement. Highlighting the sentiment, someone wryly asked him, “Everything? Even, say, chess?” To which he responded, “Well, yes.”

    Ta da.

  3. From Google:
    “When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently, through the Moorish conquest of Spain, spread to Southern Europe.”

    The term “checkmate” is actually a corruption of the term “shah mat” derived from Farsi (Persian) meaning “the king is dead” or “the king is helpless.”

    Anyway, for a Muslim cleric to denounce chess is either a sign of ignorance or duplicity.

  4. I don’t know. If a cleric declares that you are a liar and worse than a pork eater if you play chess, you might have a basis for slander. Plus, did this ridiculous cleric put their lives at risk?

    If they are not in physical danger, or suffered any damages from being called liars, etc, then it’s a free speech issue. In that case, good speech is the best remedy.

    But since this is the land of Erdogan, who has dragged down one of the most secular, chic last bastion in the Muslim world against extremism, I somehow doubt that free speech will be valued or defended.

    Darren – thank you. Even without watching the video, I now have “One Night in Bangkok” firmly playing on a loop in my brain. Loved loved loved that song. I would dance but I came off my sweet horse yesterday morning, plus it would just look weird to be dancing to a song in my head. 🙂

    Jay – what do you think the chances are that the cleric was educated on the origin of chess?

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