Turkey’s top religious body to spend $11 billion by 2023

Turkey’s top religious body has laid out a budget of $11 billion through 2023, the country’s centenary year, with spending increasing by more than half over four years, news site Artı Gerçek reported on Sunday.

The Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, an official state institution regulating the role of Islam, has allotted a budget of,10.4 billion lira ($ 1.7 billion) in 2019, 12 billion lira ($ 2 billion) in 2020, 13.1 billion lira ($2.2 billion) in 2021 and 14.4 billion lira ($2.4 billion) in 2022 and 15.9 billion lira ($2.6 billion) in 2023, according to its five-year strategic action plan, it said. 

The body is set to spend 702 million lira ($118 million) on various projects, 70.4 million lira ($11.8 million) on staff development, 66.6 million lira ($11.2 million) to promote and implement religious education within the country, among others, according to the report. 

Diyanet’s 2019 budget was increased by 34 percent compared to the previous year, according to official figures. The top religious body’s budget exceeds that of other government ministries by a wide margin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has quadrupled Diyanet’s budget during its 18 years in power, sparking criticism that the organisation is being used by the Islamist AKP as a vehicle for soft power. 

Diyanet, which builds and funds mosques throughout the world, employs over 100,000 people.