Turkey’s Atheism Association has called on public prosecutors to take action following comments by the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs’ (Diyanet), stating that “perverse” deists don’t belong in Turkish nation.
‘’Could there be a more appropriate crime to draw the sword of Turkish Penal Code (TCK) 216 [on provoking the public to hatred, hostility or degrading], which you don’t hesitate to use in reining in those who exercise free thought?’’ the association asked Turkey’s public prosecutors, in statement it released on its website on Friday.
Deism, the belief in a non-interventionist creator god, has been a topic of debate in Turkey after a local religious affairs administration in the central Anatolian city of Konya published a report in April stating that Turkish youths were turning away from Islam and embracing deism.
Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli did not hesitate to get into the heated discussion last week, labelling deism as, ‘’one step before atheism” and condemning youths who held the beliefs.
Later on during the week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called his education minister to the podium during a speech in parliament to discuss deism with him in a public display of frustration.
Diyanet head Ali Erbaş’s chimed into the discussion most recently, stating, “No member of our nation would give credit to such a perverse, false notion,” said Erbaş.
“Deism means denying the Prophet (Muhammad),” continued Erbaş. “Which Muslim can deny the Prophet and remain as a Muslim?”
Turkey’s Atheism Association, indicating that it remained an organization that aims to protect the legal and social rights of all non-theist groups, voiced a series of concerns about the religiously monolithic environment being created in Turkey. The administration of country is preventing scientific and positivist education with each amendment they make to the educational system, argued.
Addressing the comments made by Diyanet head Erbaş, the association said that it was unacceptable for the representative of certain religion, who is paid by the taxes of Turkish citizens, to make hateful remarks about other members of society, calling for public prosecutors to pursue the matter.