Prominent Turkish preacher advises young people against dialogue with atheists

Nurettin Yıldız, a Turkish preacher and Islamic scholar known for his radical views, advised university students in the northwestern province of Sakarya to avoid conversations with atheists, saying discussions with them could be fatal to their faith, Artı Greek reported on Wednesday.

Yıldız, the head of an Islamist foundation, was widely criticised last year over his statement that children could marry before reaching puberty.

“There can be marriages between children or between a child and an adult. For example, a marriage between a 7-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man, or a 7-year-old boy with a 25-year-old woman. There are no inconveniences preventing their marriage,” Yıldız said in video.

In another controversial video, Yıldız also defended violence against women, raising frustration among seculars in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted Yıldız, his staunch supporter, during a speech on Women’s Day last year, saying that practices applied 15 centuries ago could not be used today and Islam needed to be updated.

But, Yıldız continues to share his opinions with young people in Turkey in conferences his foundation has been organising in universities throughout the country, Artı Gerçek said.

According to Yıldız, even explaining Islam to atheists and deists poses a great risks for Muslims.

“Given your capital, not only answering to the questions of atheists, but even reflecting on those questions is fatal. Stop saving him [the atheist], save yourself. Never engage in discussions over religious belief,” he said in one of his conferences in Sakarya University.