Turkey Declares Itself a Model for Religious Expression
A prominent Turkish official believes religion(s) should not be blamed for violence and terrorism. That this is wrong.
“Violence and terrorism have no moral or religious justification, but to accuse religions for these acts is completely wrong” said Turkey’s state religious affairs director Ali Bardakoglu, in an exclusive interview ahead of next week’s visit by Pope Benedict XVI. Bardakoglu, the country’s top state religious official, who next Tuesday will meet the pontiff, was a harsh critic of Benedict after his controversial speech at Regensburg in September. “It was an unfortunate and wrong speech” he explained “but we do not want to dwell on the past: I maintain that a similar approach must be abandoned by religious leaders.”
Emphasising the willingness of the Turkish state to allow the coexistence of various religions, he said “the various faiths live together like pieces of a mosaic”. “In Turkey which is a secular and modern state where all the minorities have complete religious freedom. If only it were like that in other countries” he added.
Referring to the anti-Islamic movements that are emerging in Europe, the Turkish official said that “the West is having to deal for the first time with a multireligious society and it is struggling, whereas in the East, we are used to that.”
In Turkey this year at least three Catholic priests were attacked by young radical Muslim men. One priest was shot in the back while he was kneeling to pray before Mass:
He had knelt down to pray shortly before celebrating the Mass in the little Santa Maria Catholic Church of Trabzon, in the north of Turkey, on the Black Sea, when a young man shot him in the back twice with a pistol, shouting out “Allah Akbar” (God is great.)
The 16 year-old killer was sentenced earlier this month.
In another trial in this multireligious society, a 92 year-old woman was indicted for suggesting that historically hookers wore veils in the Summer period before Islam was born.
92 year-old, Muazzez Ilmiye Cig faces charges for inciting violence for her veil remarks.
And, of course earlier this year a female reporter was stoned at a Muhammed Cartoon protest. Apparently, some people found that not covering her head was provocative.
Is this what the Turkish official means by “a successful” multi-religious society?