Turkish journalist receives jail sentence for insulting İmam Hatip religious schools

A Turkish court has sentenced Turkish journalist and academic Erol Mütercimler to 10 months in jail on charges of “insulting the religious values,’’ of the country, T24 news site reported on Monday.

The charge stems from remarks made by Mütercimler during a TV programme he appeared on in September, where criticised the country’s İmam Hatip religious schools.

"İmam Hatip graduates emerge before us today as sexual deviants, thieves and crooks,’’ Mütercimler said during the broadcast in remarks that were deemed as "unacceptable’’ by head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate Ali Erbaş.

The Turkish president is a vocal advocate of İmam Hatip schools, which train Islamic clergy. Under the 18-year leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, himself an İmam Hatip graduate, the schools have catapulted in number, from 450 when he came into power, to over 5,000 today.

A total of 16 people, including Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varankand Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan - also graduates of the school-  had filed criminal complaints with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over Mütercimler’s remarks, T24 said.