Erdoğan scolds minister on deism report

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called a minister to the podium for a tough exchange on deism during a parliamentary group talk for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the secular news site Diken reported on Tuesday.

Deism, the nondenominational belief in a creator god who does not intervene in the universe, became a talking point in Turkey after a report by local educational authorities in the central Anatolian city of Konya that Turkish youth were turning away from Islam to this belief.

In the wake of the report, Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli spoke derisively of the belief system, calling it “one step before atheism” and saying that youths who had adopted it “should be ashamed.”

President Erdoğan made the seemingly spontaneous decision to broach the issue at the end of an unrelated speech to his party on Tuesday, calling Minister of National Education İsmet Yılmaz by name to come to the podium.

The pair can then be seen in discussion away from the microphone, with enough of the conversation audible for Diken to report that Yılmaz is telling the president about the Konya report on deism.

“There’s no such thing,” Erdoğan, can be heard replying to his minister in a tone of irritation.

The roots of the ruling party and Erdoğan’s political vision lie firmly in Turkey’s political Islam movement, and the president’s desire to raise a “pious generation” in Turkey are well known.

Nonetheless, the display of aggression at the deist beliefs puzzled and concerned some Turkish social media users.

“I couldn’t understand whether Erdoğan got angry and said ‘there’s no such thing’ about the report or about deism. I guess he just reacted because he thought he should be annoyed,” commented Twitter user Nevzat.

“Noone around him could ask what he was getting angry about either,” said Nevzat in a follow-up tweet. “The nation can’t move.”