Mar 03 2018

Imams should visit tavernas, commission head says


The head of the Turkish parliamentary Drugs and Substance Addiction Research Commission has recommended that the country’s imams spend more time in licensed premises, secularist newspaper Sözcü said.

“Our imams are avoiding popping in and out of meyhanes,” commission head and Justice and Development Party parliamentarian Yılmaz Tezcan said, referring to the Turkish version of a taverna serving forms of alcohol including rakı and wine.

“In the old days, there were clergymen who would say hello to the drunks when they went past.”

General Director of Religious Services at the General Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Bünyamin Albayrak agreed that imams should be going to places where alcohol is served to convince drinkers to abandon their sinful behaviour.

“In the 1930s the imam of Nurosmaniye Mosque, Hasan Akkuş, used to visit the neighbourhood drunks at their tables,” he said. “Hajji Veyiszade in Konya also used to go to the meyhanes and talk.”

“There is the concept of sedd-i zerayi or closing the road to evil in Islam,” he added. “As the Diyanet we want to increase this duty.”

Not all Twitter users welcomed the idea.

“If an imam comes along and says ‘don’t drink brother’, I’d smash a 70 (centilitre bottle of rakı) over his head. Would I come into the mosque with haydari (a yoghurt-based dish) and tell them not to pray?” a user with nickname Orta Asyalı responded.