CEFTUS briefing on the politics of Turkey’s religious authority

15 November 2018

A dispute involving Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs has highlighted the government’s difficulty in balancing the country’s religious and nationalist currents

  • The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs has faced calls to resign amid claims he disrespected the country’s secularist founder, Kemal Ataturk
  • The religious authority has long been used for political means but has been given a new significance under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government
  • The nature of the debate has given insights into possible political trends ahead of important local elections next March

Opposition parties have called for the resignation of Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), after his visit to the controversial historian Kadri Misiroglu, one day before the 80th anniversary of the death of Kemal Ataturk, the secularist founder of the Turkish Republic. Misiroglu is known for his staunch criticism of Ataturk, and the timing of Erbas’ visit has been interpreted as a…

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