Turkey’s religious authority expands divorce options for men

When a citizen asked whether saying one’s wife “has become like a sister or like a mother” would equate to a divorce, Turkey’s religious authority, the Diyanet, has replied that it may.

If a man says those things or other phrases like “I divorce you”, “You are not my wife”, “Be free”, “Go off”, or “Go to your father’s house” to his wife with the intention to divorce, the Diyanet said, the divorce has taken place in terms of Islam, even if it is sent by SMS or by e-mail.

The institution has sparked a public outcry before for issuing similar replies about marrital affairs, such as the one in Jan 2016 about incest.

The Diyanet, or Directorate of Religious Affairs, is a state institution under the Prime Minister’s office, responsible for the appointments of religious personnel at more than 87,381 mosques in Turkey, according to the figures provided by a fact-checking organisation called Doğruluk Payı.

The institution also drafts centralised sermons read at all mosques on every Friday, and issues fatwas, authoritative opinions, on social life and personal life in the view of religion.

Critics argue that the institution is against the equidistance and impartiality required of a secular state, and that it promotes only one understanding of Islam in Turkey and abroad.


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