ILYAS – ‘Turkish religious body not transparent, misuses funds’

‘Turkish religious body not transparent, misuses funds’The Turkish Religious Affairs Foundationand#39s (T), which is affiliated with the Religious Affairs Directorate, budget is being kept secret by the government because it is being used for purposes other than those mentioned in its deed of foundation, a former deputy from the True Path Party (DYP) has told Todayand#39s Zaman.Former DYP deputy Ismail AmasyalI, in remarks to Todayand#39s Zaman, said donations are collected from 85,000 mosques across Turkey three times a year and the T does not account for where the donated money is spent.

andldquoAll these donations go to the T, but we donand#39t know where the money is spent. It is actually known where the money is spent, but it is being kept secret from society because it is an issue open to controversy,andrdquo AmasyalI said.

He noted that since the T is tied to the Religious Affairs Directorate, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate is considered to be the head of the T and deputy heads of the directorate are considered members of the board of trustees of the T.The former deputy explained that the deed of foundation of the T, which was prepared in 1975, was changed and the foundation has been involved in activities other than those mentioned in its deed of foundation.

andldquoThe deed of foundation of the T states that the foundation was established to provide the maintenance and other expenses of mosques. Yet the deed of foundation has been changed.

Now, the T finances the establishment of schools, orphanages, dormitories, kindergartens, medical centers, hospitals, nursing homes, refugee camps and even banks. Municipalities have begun to take care of the maintenance of mosques,andrdquo said AmasyalI.

According to the former deputy, changing the deed of foundation of the T is unlawful.andldquoYou can expand the scope of what is stated in the deed of foundation.

For instance, you can expand the maintenance of mosques to the maintenance of mosques in other countries and you can maintain the mosques in Somalia But you cannot change the deed of foundation to include construction of schools, dormitories or establishment of refugee camps or banks. This is how it should be according to both secular law and religious law,andrdquo said the deputy in further remarks.

The reason for changing the deed of foundation of the T is politically motivated, according to AmasyalI.Recalling that President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, who was the prime minister until last August, used to tell people during his election rallies not to send their children to the schools and dormitories affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement, the former deputy said ErdoIan and the government are seeking to establish schools and dormitories as an alternative to those of the Hizmet movement.

ErdoIan launched a battle against the movement following a graft probe in which senior government members have been implicated. The graft probe was made public on Dec.

17 of 2013. ErdoIan, who was the prime minister at the time, accuses Hizmet of masterminding the graft probe with the aim of toppling his government.

Hizmet strongly denies the accusations.Parliament records confirm AmasyalIand#39s claims about the T budget not being transparent.

When opposition deputies Izzet etin, Ferit Mevlut AslanoIlu and Muslum SarI asked former deputy Prime Minister and current Justice Minister Bekir BozdaI about the budget of the T, BozdaI refused to give them a detailed account Tand#39s spending, saying: andldquoT is a foundation which serves the same goal with the Religious Affairs Directorate.andrdquoUnsatisfied by BozdaIand#39s answer, another opposition deputy Adil Bozan said: andldquoEsteemed minister, do you think we are fools? We are not asking what the foundation is doing, but where its budget is spent.

andrdquo.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman