Religious Affairs to intervene in consumption of alcohol

Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey attempts to regulate social life by promoting Islamic rules
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 19:59

The Directorate of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, continues to attempt to reshape social life in Turkey to be in line with Islamic practices. Bünyamin Albayrak, Director-General of the Diyanet's Religious Services, attended the Parliamentary Research Commission on Drugs and suggested that Islamic preachers (imams) visit taverns and speak of the "harms" of alcoholic beverages to people.

Stating that the Diyanet has currently 83,000 imams and approximately 13,000 muezzins [religious officers reciting the adhan to inform of prayer time], Albayrak said, "In Islamic law, there is the concept of prevention of 'evil' [referring to alcohol consumption]. We, as the Diyanet, want to increase our role in the prevention of evil, which is our duty. We live in a country that is 99 percent Muslim. When even non-Muslim citizens expect support from us about this issue, there can be no doubt that the penitence is common for all religions. So, we think that these citizens have the possibility to get support from us, and we are ready to give the people this opportunity."

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has entrusted a new task to the Sunni-Islamist Directorate of Religious Affairs, as the institution increases its influence in almost every sphere of social life. "Family Guidance and Counseling Bureaus" were established under the control of the office of muftis (religious officers) in Turkey’s southern province of Kahramanmaraş.

Couples having problems in their relationships will be directed to these religious-oriented centres.

A Quran course teacher will serve as an expert in Diyanet’s family guidance and counselling bureaus. The aim of these bureaus is "to solve problems related to mothers, fathers and children, and to eliminate misunderstandings."

İlknur Karcıoğlu, one of the instructors of Quran courses, said that the family bureaus provide services for "the establishment and protection of a family structure loyal to national and moral values, for contributing to the solution of problems and creating social sensitivity."

The concept of 'Family and Guidance Bureaus', first raised in 2004, was actively introduced by the Turkish government in 2018.

The centres, which explain the importance of 'family' with reference to Sunni Islam to the couples, were harshly criticized by experts on the grounds that "the protection of family structures cannot be provided with religious information."