After Director of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş implied that the LGBTI+ individuals and couples living together out of the wedlock cause “damnation of the people through calamities,” there have been named criticism and support of the institution as of the first day of Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Criminal complaints have been filed both against the Directorate of Religious Affairs and Ankara Bar Association for reacting to the director.

Director of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş, targeted LGBTI+ individuals in his Friday sermon on April 24 on the beginning of Islamic holy month of Ramadan, “Islam considers adultery as the biggest sin. It damnates the people of Lut, homosexuality.”

CAUSING REACTIONS TO HATE-SPEECH

Lawyer Ahmet Çevik responded to the Friday sermon by Ali Erbaş, “He kept quiet about rapists. HIV is a medical condition.”
The Human Rights Association (İHD) in Ankara filed a criminal complaint against the Chair of Religious Affairs, “This is not the first time Diyanet committed this crime. The government is responsible for hate crimes against homosexuals. Ali Erbaş should be dismissed.”

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RECLAIM AND SUPPORT HOMOPHOBIC STATEMENTS

Despite strong reactions accusing Prof. Dr. Erbaş of conducting hate speech, there has also been initiated a social media campaign declaring that Erbaş is not alone, receiving several thousand tweets containing homophobic messages.
Parliamentary speaker Mustafa Şentop was among those who reclaimed Erbaş’s statement, saying “facts and humane values are beyong time-limitations” claiming that “damnation of homosexuality” is a fact and value of humanity, adding that those who react to the statemetn are “hostility against the nation”.

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: “THIS IS MURDER OF LAW”

Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül, issued a written statement that he strongly condemns the Ankara Bar Association’s exceeder statement that names discontent with the Friday Sermon by Erbaş, reminding the Article 24 of the Constitution that everyone is entitled to freedom of religion & thought, and that there is absolutely no problem with a man of religion enjoying this freedom.
Gül continued to declare Ankara Bar Association as “legally illiterate” for calling Erbaş’s statement ‘hate speech’ as he added “there is absolutely no implication or statement by our teacher Erbaş that targets our unity as people.”

AKP MINISTERS: “REACTIONS ARE ASSAULT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM”

Minister of Industry & Technology Mustafa Varank also tweeted, “the foot-class that aims to fight their struggle with Islam over Ali Erbaş’s statement shall know that as long as call to prayers are chanted over this land, you shall have no say in our country.”
Minister of Agriculture & Forestry Dr. Bekir Pakdemirli, “I condemn the vile attack against our imam; he is not alone. With God’s will, those who name God’s rules will never be alone.”
Minister of Family, Work and Social Services Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk also tweeted “they will face the people at every assault against our national and religious values. We are with Director of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş.”
Governing AKP deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş deemed reactions against Director Erbaş’s statement, “Qur’an is the holy book of our religion and its wisdom aims humans. Those who feel upset about the statements exceed their boundaries in assaulting Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş, we condemn them. The fact that lawyers indulge in this kind of unfit behavious and target someone because of their religious views, is murdering law. This is unacceptable.”
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik stated that the reactions to Erbaş are sign of “untamed behaviour” as he continued to call Ankara Bar Association’s statement “mentality of fascism.” Çelik also added that “Religious Affairs Director is doing his job which he is duty-bound; the directorate is actually fighting against hate-crimes, on the contrary of the statements against it.”
AKP Secretary General called the reactions to Erbaş’s statement “hate crime”.

ANKARA BAR ASSOCIATION: CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

Reactions to hate speech by Ali Erbaş increased on social media as well as criminal complaint being filed against him “Erbaş receives salaries to legitimize attempts to close people’s eyes to the child rapists and misogyny, on a spiritual basis of with a religious rhetoric. But our eyes are open.”
Ankara Bar Association issued a statement, “we have watched Erbaş’s speech in confusion. Our confusion was because this voice of several centuries ago is sitting at a high chair of the state and is being used to instigate people to hatred and violence; he can dare to trigger society with the stink of blood. What lesson we have taken from his speech is, while this person is living in the times of today he shows a great resilience to live with the mentality of 10 generations ago. We strongly condemn Erbaş who has been paid wages to shut his eyes to child-rapists and legitimize misogyny during the time of his service; which he continued to keep doing despite his statements about the earthquakes, LGBTI+ and women and children. If he continues his career to call on to people to burn women as witches with torches in their hands, no one should be surprised. We wish to declare to the general public that we strongly defy this person and the mentality that gives him this right.”
“Coalition of Homophobia” got Ankara Bar Association targeted by an investigation into criticism of Religious Affairs Director Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş, accusing the bar associaiton for “insult to religious values.”
Şanlıurfa Bar Association declared support for Ankara Bar Association and Diyarbakır Bar Association, stating that the Director of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Erbaş committed a crime by violating the legal framework of the state.

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AGAINST LAWYERS: HATE CRIME

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs filed criminal complaint against Ankara Bar Association regarding the press statement criticizing director Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş. Several AKP politicians and religious figures claimed that reactions to Erbaş’s statement constitute hate-crime, through insult to their religious values and denial of religious practices, according to Article 24 of the consititution. Diyarbakır Bar Association which also filed criminal complaint and named reactions against the director, is subjected to investigation alongside Ankara Bar Association.
Turkish Bar Associations League chair Metin Feyzioğlu reacted against Ankara Bar Association, “we cannot approve of this irresponsible statement; on the other hand the bar association changed the agenda of the country from reality.”
Ankara Bar Association responded to criminal complaint filed against the lawyers, “while the bar association has never insulted religious values throughout its history, it has in fact been the defender of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of thought and belief all the time.”

ERDOĞAN ALSO RECLAIMED ERBAŞ

AKP chair & President Erdoğan also reclaimed Erbaş, “an assault targeting Director of Religious Affairs is an assault against the state! All shall know their boundaries. It is the institution that speaks for Islam in our country. Director tells the truth, it is his duty to speak of the commands of religion through the position he holds. Ankara Bar Association openly attacked Islam and the director; this is an assault against the state.”

OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF DIRECTOR

CHP İzmir deputy Kamil Okyay Sındır called for resignation of Director of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Erbaş for his statements against LGBTI+ community and those living together without marriage, “is this a land governed by Shariah?”

DIRECTOR SPEAKS FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER SERMON

Director of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Erbaş, “our nation’s support and reclaiming of islamic values at all times has increased our excitement and responsibility” speaking to the press for the first time since his remarks about homosexuality and living together out of wedlock.