By Huseyin Ekmekci
I hear that the removal of the Head of Religious Affairs Talip Atalay from his post is on the agenda…
I don’t care who replaces him. What I care about is that he should be replaced by someone who knows this country and the people.
Someone who feels for this country and cares.
Because what is going on right now under Atalay is a disaster. The things he has been doing are very disconcerting.
He is filling the mosques with people we don’t know. He is assigning random people as “honorary religious officers” to villages.
He is giving them a salary.
With a cult mentality, he is creating a group of religious officers loyal to him…
I have a file on my desk with documents on about at least 100 people. They have been assigned to villages and mosques as “honorary officers” by Atalay.
For example, an application dated 16 June 2015 by a woman called Ozlem, born in 1981 in Mus in Turkey… She says:
“I want to teach kids about religion during the summer holidays at the Yesilkoy Mosque and read verses to the village women during the month of Ramadan. I hereby submit my request…”
She has apparently completed a Koran course with success. This is the only certificate she has.
Atalay looks into this application, and writes a formal letter to assign her as “an honorary religious officer.”
His letter reads: “It has been determined that you are in the know of religious topics. I inform you of your assignment as an honorary officer to give basic religious education and teach the Koran.”
But that is not all.
He also assigns her a salary. There is a bank account number in the document that I have.
We don’t know what school this person graduated from. We don’t know what she is. But now, she is assigned as an educator, a teacher. She will be teaching kids in the villages.
Another document: A woman born in 1974 in Silifke in Turkey. An elementary school graduate who works as a cleaner in a hotel. She apparently attended a Koran course in Silifke in 2005. She applies to Atalay and also becomes an honorary officer.
“Emine E with ID number xxx residing in Kyrenia has been assigned an honorary officer to teach religion to women and children,” says Atalay’s formal letter.
There is also a bank account number.
An elementary school graduate with no pedagogical background becomes a teacher just like that.
Who are these people? What cult or sect do they belong to? What do they teach the children? Who controls what they do? What kinds of religious activities do they carry out in the villages and mosques in this country?
We don’t know.
Only Talip Atalay knows.
What is the need for assigning random people to mosques and villages as educators when there are 400 paid religious officials in this country?
We don’t have 400 mosques, which means that there are enough officials to give Koran courses and religious education in each mosque.
Complete a Koran course, get a certificate, apply to Mr Talip, become a religious officer and get a salary. There are hundreds of documents on my table like this.
I am very concerned. I am concerned that religious education is not in professional hand, but in the hands of religion-mongers.
At least Atalay should answer these questions:
How many people are carrying out religious activities in villages under the title of “honorary religion officers?”
How much is being paid to these people?
Where does this money come from?
The writer is managing editor of Havadis media group