Turkish religious directorate vows to fight “exploitation of religion”

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is ready to take the fight to what it calls “exploitation of religion,” Diyanet president Ali Erbaş has said.

The directorate’s struggle against religious exploitation is likely to have police backing: Erbaş’s comments were made during a conference held for police officer candidates at the police academy entitled “the fight against terrorist organisations that exploit religion.”

“Exploitation is the abuse of religion and its exalted values. The exploitation of religion is when religious concepts and values are used to cheat people or make material gains, in short when religion is used for personal advantage,” Erbaş said.

The Diyanet head referred to the Gülen organisation, which the Turkish government says organised the coup attempt in July 2016, as one example of a terror group that exploits religion, as well as the Islamic State and associated extremist jihadist groups.

Erbaş said Diyanet was preparing to mobilise against religious groups that used media outlets including television and radio stations to exploit people.

Theology faculties would also be enlisted to “present accurate religious information to our youth” through both theoretical and practical projects, Erbaş said.

Diyanet, the state institution overseeing religious administration in Turkey, has risen in influence considerably during the reign of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has granted it large budget increases.