Imam fired by Religious Affairs Directorate for retweeting posts critical of gov’t

An imam in the central Anatolian province of Eskiiehir has been fired by the Religious Affairs Directorate after he retweeted posts on Twitter originally written by journalists critical of the government, joining a lengthy list of victims including intellectuals, celebrities, artists and journalists who have been punished for expressing anti-government views on social media.
Fedai Can, an imam who had been working at Eskiiehir Reiadiye Mosque for almost 28 years, shared via Twitter several tweets originally written by the Bugandun daily columnist Nazli Ilicak, TV producer Canduneyt andOzdemir and Samanyolu TV news editor Metin Yikar in which they criticize the AK Party for its increasingly authoritarian actions. Can was recently informed by the Religious Affairs Directorate that he has been dismissed, even though his statement has not been taken as is his right under Turkish law.
Ilyas andOzkan, a lawyer representing Can, told Bugandun that although his client had never been given a single disciplinary warning during his entire working life, he was fired only two years before his retirement. andOzkan also rejected the accusations directed at his client, saying that every citizen has right to criticize the government and other political parties.
In a related development, on Feb. 23 the Religious Affairs Directorate fired another imam who is highly respected because he is a and”hafizand” — a person who has memorized the entire Quran — in izmir because of posts on Facebook criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s use of religious terminology to praise himself.
The imam, who asked that his name not be revealed because of the judicial appeal he has started against the directorate, told Todayand’s Zaman that directorate inspectors started an investigation against him when the izmir Muftiand’s Office filed a complaint in May of last year about posts he had written in which he argued that the language employed by Erdogan and his supporters goes against the principles of Islam. The imam insisted that it is a duty of religious officials to warn people when their behavior, attitude and language contradict religious mandates.
Political analysts have strongly criticized the politicization of the Religious Affairs Directorate, claiming that it has started to function as a propaganda tool for the AK Party.
The directorate was also the focus of criticism when a luxury car costing TL 1 million was purchased in December of last year for directorate President Mehmet GandOrmez using the budget of Turkeyand’s Religious Affairs Directorate Foundation (T). After news of the purchase was spread by the media, the directorate said in a statement that the State Procurement Office had purchased the car with the knowledge of the Finance Ministry.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman