The role ErdoIan imposes on head of the Religious Affairs Directorate

President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s analogy between the head of Turkeyand’s Religious Affairs Directorate and the pope will be remembered as the most striking political gaffe of this election. This blunder may have made everyone smile ironically, but it has certainly left the president in the lurch. As a seasoned politician, Erdogan frequently uses repetitions as a propaganda technique. There are some 10 themes that he categorically uses in his polemics against opposition parties. He recently introduced the analogy between the president of the Religious Affairs Directorate and the pope, but he never used it again. Apparently, he realized that he made a big blunder.
The comparison regarded ostentation and luxury. andquotEven the pope has a private plane. Why should the president of the Religious Affairs Directorate not have one?andquot he asked, making two gross mistakes. First, it turns out that the pope does not have a private plane, and lives very modestly. Second, it was seriously flawed, from an Islamic perspective, to make an analogy between the pope and the president of the Religious Affairs Directorate, referring to both as andquotspiritual leaders.andquot The president of the Religious Affairs Directorate is a senior public bureaucrat. He uses the state budget for all expenditures. He is appointed by the president and may be removed from office by the prime minister. Moreover, as Islam does not have a clerical class, the Religious Affairs Directorate president has no religious power. His powers are purely bureaucratic, whereas the power to pass judgment on certain religious issues belongs to the High Council on Religious Affairs, which enjoys certain autonomy within the overall functioning of the state apparatus. If we were to search for an Islamic counterpart to the pope, the closest we could get would be a caliph. But still, the caliph was a political leader rather than a spiritual one. Erdoganand’s analogy was a mistake an average Muslim would never make. But what is the reason for this mistake?
Erdogan made it in a panic. He is panicking over fears that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will be unable to secure enough parliamentary seats to form a single-party government. This concern is further exacerbated by the possibility that the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) will pass the election threshold. Thus, Erdogan has waged an election campaign, directing attacks at the HDP, as if he were the leader of a political party. The failure of the HDP to pass the election threshold would be the sole requisite for the AK Party to remain in power. To ensure this outcome, Erdogan is using the Sunni faith, the common denominator between Turks and Kurds, as the central theme of his propaganda. The Religious Affairs Directorate is a reputable institution among Kurds. Moreover, President Mehmet GandOrmez is a Kurd and respected by Kurds.
The move to place the Religious Affairs Directorate at the center of debates does great disservice to this institution, but it plays into hands of Erdogan, a ruthless politician. He kills two birds with one stone. He both abuses religion for his own political gains and tries to whitewash himself by giving GandOrmez an andquotarmored Mercedesandquot as a gift, thereby making him an accomplice in Erdoganand’s ostentatiousness.
Pious Muslims of Turkey have experienced the dangerous consequences of the abuse of religion to serve the agenda of a pious prime minister and a pious president for about 13 years. The Kemalist elites were never been able to make society internalize secularism. Now, the abuse of religion by a pious politician proves that secularism is indispensable for social peace. Erdogan has endowed the Religious Affairs Directorate president, a bureaucrat, with a political role. Oddly enough, GandOrmez has refused to adopt this role, by remaining silent.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman