Opposition parties call for head of Turkey’s top religious body to resign

The leaders of Turkey’s opposition parties called for the head of  Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to resign following a visit he made to an ailing historian known for his criticism of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, pro-government HaberTürk news site reported.

The head of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu blasted Ali Erbaş for visiting Kadir Mısıroğlu on Nov. 9, a day before the country commemorated the 80th anniversary of the death of Atatürk. Erbaş disrespected the history of the republic, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Center-right Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener also addressed Erbaş, criticizing him for failing to instruct the country’s imams to mourn the iconic leader during Friday sermon.

Akşener also called for Erbaş's resignation.

Meanwhile far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli questioned the timing of Erbaş’s visit, asking, “What are you trying to do by protecting the enemies of Atatürk?” before calling on Turkey's top religious figure to resign.

Erbaş responded to the deluge of criticism levelled at him, saying he had only visited Mısıroğlu to wish him a speedy recovery.

Mısıroğlu, who once said in a video that  a day would come in Turkey where Atatürk’s statues would be dragged on the ground ''like a dead dog,'' has applauded Erdoğan for being “a statesman who defies the Jews.”

The historian has praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan storming out of a 2009 discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres was “more important than the War of Independence.”