CHP slams Turkey’s top cleric over Atatürk remarks

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Clerics should adopt a more tolerant and embracing rhetoric, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said, in criticism against the country’s top cleric, Ali Erbaş, over a Friday sermon that indirectly condemned Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the opening ceremony of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque last week.

“The Quran says, ‘Say nice words to people.’ Is it good to use the word ‘curse’ when there are words about love and tolerance? It’s not right for a clergy to use such a language,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told his party’s parliamentary group meeting on July 28.

Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), has been accused of targeting Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkey, in a sermon he delivered at the first Friday prayers performed at Hagia Sophia on July 24.

“Any property that is endowed is inviolable in our belief and burns whoever touches it; the charter of the endower is indispensable and whoever infringes upon it is cursed,” Erbaş said in the sermon.

The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1934 through a decree signed by Atatürk. Erbaş has later rejected accusations that he targeted Atatürk.

“It means you don’t deserve the seats you are occupying if you have been brought to certain positions with hate and grievance and without knowledge of history. You are just dirtying them,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, accusing Erbaş of not being honest and honorable.

“This man should know that no call to prayer would be recited from any mosque in Turkey if Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades hadn’t [fought for Turkey’s independence]. Do you know this?” he stated.

Atatürk is one of the common values of Turkey as the savior of the country and founder of the republic, Kılıçdaroğlu added.

Hurriyet Daily News

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