Feb 17 2018

Turkey falling victim to creeping sharia – think-tanker

Turkey is in danger of gradually becoming a country in which elements of sharia law are enforced, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote in the Washington Post.

Atatürk’s republic had kept religion firmly out of the judiciary, but many Muslim-majority countries have hybrid regimes that blend elements of sharia law with secular laws, Soner Çağaptay said.

“Blending with state power, it imposes Islamic practices on the public, such as fasting during Ramadan. It also demonizes those who do not practice and punishes speech or acts deemed offensive to Islam,” he said.

“Mainstreaming jihad, which sanctions violence against those who ‘offend Islam,’ is a crucial step in draping the sheath of sharia over a society. Sadly, Turkey seems to be slowly moving along that path.”

Çağaptay noted that Turkish officials had now begun describing military action in Syria – which is being carried out largely against fighters of an Islamic background – as jihad, and that they had instructed mosques to recite the prayer of conquest.

The change would not happen overnight, he said, but the direction of policy was worrying and the state-run Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) was becoming ever more overbearing.

“Since November 2017, the national police – controlled by the central government – has been monitoring online commentary on religion and suppressing freedom of expression when they find such commentary ‘offensive to Islam’,” Çağaptay wrote.

“And more recently, on Feb. 9, the religious body announced a new plan to appoint “Diyanet representatives” among pupils in every class of Turkey’s nearly 60,000 public schools, bringing public education under closer scrutiny of Erdoğan-guided religion.