Bizarre Turkish News for Your Amusement this Holiday Season

Throughout this past year, I have collected several examples of eccentric reports or rules imposed on Turkish society. Naturally, millions of liberal and civilized Turks are unhappy with these behind the times regulations, but as long as Pres. Erdogan is in power, such draconian measures will continue to be imposed on all Turkish citizens. Here are some examples:

  • Pinar Tremblay of Al-Monitor reported that Turkey’s Diyanet, the Religious Affairs Directorate’s website, announced on February 3, 2018 that “based on the well-known words of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims are advised to eat and drink with the right hand and to teach their children to do the same because the ‘devil eats with the left hand.’” How about those who are left-handed or don’t have a right arm, wondered many members of the Turkish public?
  • Ihsan Senocak, a well-known Islamic Imam, resigned from the Diyanet in February after his controversial announcement that women who wear pants are sinners destined for hell! Senocak had also announced that a man should not kiss the hand of his young mother-in-law because it could lead to temptation Mahmut Acar, a local resident of nearby Incirlik Air Base in Turkey told Sputnik News that U.S. soldiers stationed there are buying Turkish children and then taking them to the United States to convert them to Christianity.
  • Yavuz Ornek, a Turkish lecturer at Istanbul University, stated on Turkish television on January 6 that Noah communicated with his son via a cell phone before the flood. Ornek also claimed that Noah built his ark with steel plates and it ran on nuclear energy. “I am a scientist, I speak for science,” Ornek insisted.
  • The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs announced that girls as young as nine years old and boys at the age of 12 can get married.
  • The Diyanet also issued several fatwas (religious edicts) announcing that “Bitcoins are inappropriate at this time.” A second one stated that dyeing men’s hair black is inappropriate according to Islam. A third one forbade the purchase of lottery tickets or working at a place where alcohol is sold. A fourth one banned listening to “immoral music.” But the most controversial fatwa was the one announcing that a man can divorce his wife via a telephone call, email, text message or letter. Such means of declaring divorce is supposed to be as good as saying it to the spouse’s face. The only thing the wife has to make sure is that the text message or email is from her husband.
  • Newsweek quoted a Turkish Islamic preacher announcing on the religious television station Fatih Medreseleri that men without beards “cannot be distinguished from women” and can provoke “indecent thoughts” by other men. “Men should grow beards. [Beards are] one of the two body parts that separate men from women,” Murat Bayaral stated. “If you see a man with long hair from afar, you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard, because nowadays, women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he explained, expressing the fear that men might look at members of the same sex with sexual interest.
  • As I reported in an earlier article, former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc had announced that “women should not laugh out loud in public!”

According to Newsweek, the foregoing reports indicate that Pres. Erdogan is trying to take Turkey “down an increasingly religious pathwith a new version of Islamic nationalism. Since the founding of modern Turkey in 1923, the word ‘secularism’ was enshrined in Turkey’s constitution. But Erdogan has increasingly recommended that religion become a part of public life. Over the past year, classes on evolution have been removed from public school curricula, and the government permitted girls to wear headscarves in school, something that was prohibited in the past.”

Newsweek’s reporter Cristina Maza concluded: “Today, Turkey’s leadership faces the daunting task of determining how to govern the more religious and the secular aspects of its society simultaneously.

‘The religious in the Muslim world have reasserted themselves in a number of divergent streams.

This has inevitably energized the Muslim masses in Turkey,’ geopolitical forecaster George Friedman wrote in an April op-ed for Real Clear World. ‘The secular, European culture that had dominated the country is confronting the increasingly powerful claims of the religious. The fundamental political and social question is how to create a single polity built around two divergent cultures.’”

We hope Pres. Erdogan and his old-fashioned Imams issue more bizarre edicts in 2019 returning Turkey to the Stone Age.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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