'The government has neither respect for freedom of religion nor concerned with solving the mufti issue' Minority MP says
Xanthi SYRIZA Deputy Hüseyin Zeybek took the floor at the parliamentary general assembly regarding the new mufti draft prepared by the government and stated that the law was not adopted through consultation with the minority, and that it was an indication that the minority was ignored.
Stating that the New Democracy Party is trying to intervene with an authoritarian approach to freedom of religion, regardless of the minority's views on an issue that directly concerns the minority, Hüseyin Zeybek emphasized that the government does not respect religious freedom and does not try to solve the mufti issue.
Zeybek said that the draft in question was an effort to transform the mufti's offices into a state office connected to Education and Religious Affairs, and that in this way, the mufti would lose their religious character, which is their main feature, and they would be transformed into an official state office.
Deputy Zeybek stated that the government aims to pass the issue of muftis, which is extremely important, into irrelevant draft laws.
Hüseyin Zeybek spoke as follows at the General Assembly of the Assembly:
“Since I think that my friends who took the podium before me touched on the environmental provisions, I would like to touch on the provisions regarding the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and Articles 142 and 167 of the multiple draft law.
First of all, I would like to point out that it is unacceptable for you to bring a bill that specifically addresses anti-environmental issues to the parliament at a time when fires are spreading across the country.
Among these multiple bills, there is the proposal of the New Democracy Party regarding the reorganization of the Mufti offices.
First of all, I would like to emphasize that you are trying to pass the issue of Muftis, which should be taken as a result of a separate draft law and mutual exchange of ideas, and which is extremely important for members of minorities, among the irrelevant draft laws.
The ND government is attempting to authoritatively intervene in matters of freedom of religion, regardless of the minority's views on this issue, which directly concerns the minority.
I would like to point out here that this attitude of the government proves only one thing, that it has no respect for freedom of religion and does not try to solve the problem of the Mufti.
Starting from the first articles, it is emphasized that the Mufti will be a government office directly subordinate to the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
In this way, mufti offices are transformed into official government offices by losing their religious character.
I would like to emphasize once again that this is a regression and if the purpose served by this choice is to protect the legality and judicial character of the mufti, my personal view is that jurisdictions regarding inheritance and family law should be kept separate.
As seen in the first articles, we see an exaggerated number of mufti offices that have been increased for personnel recruitment.
Regarding the health system, I would like to mention especially Xanthi State Hospital. I believe that at a time when there are serious deficiencies in all branches, in a period when there is a serious shortage of staff in the education system, the cadres envisaged for the Mufti are high and this initiative completely contributes to the creation of a bureaucratic functioning of the Mufti.
Serious question marks arise regarding Article 158, which determines the establishment of an Advisory Board to present an opinion on the list of mufti candidates.
My objections to this article of law are as follows:
First, it is stated that the advisory board will consist of only 33 members, of which only 10 will be imams registered with mufti offices. The number of registered and active imams in Xanthi is a matter of curiosity. I wonder if the number of active imams registered to the mufti reaches 10?
Second, the determination of these 33 members by lottery.
Thirdly, the recommendations of the board do not affect the authorized minister, as a result, the minister appoints whomever he wants.
I would like to point out that the Advisory Board consists of a small number of members. In addition, only imams registered in the mufti lists are included. However, all active imams working in mosques should be included in this list.
Most importantly, I would like to emphasize that the lottery system is not a serious method in the selection of religious leaders, and the whole process should not be treated as if it were a lottery.
Finally, if the board's opinion does not constitute a binding element for the minister, the reason for its existence and this method should be questioned.
Therefore, since the mufti is appointed by the Minister of Education, the established council has no authority. It is completely symbolic. A council with certain powers cannot represent the entire minority under any circumstances, and this is proof that you do not want to solve the mufti issue. Most importantly, these decisions you take are an indication that you ignore the minority, as they are not made through consultation with the minority.
I think my party's position on this issue is clear, so we do not agree with these provisions.
We believe that you should first consult with the minority regarding any decision that concerns our minority.
I would also like to emphasize that article 153 of the draft law is a huge mistake. According to this article, the person who will come to the office of mufti must be a madrasa graduate with ten years of imam experience registered in the mufti. This is not a qualification and discredits the mufti's office and status.
In simple words, it brings a religious high school graduate to the status of a religious leader. I think similar examples do not exist in the Orthodox Church. Therefore, it is obvious that there is an aim here to damage the reputation of the mufti.
Another extremely important issue is the connection of the board of directors of the foundation with the mufti. In the past, foundation boards' only link with the mufti was simply to oversee their decision. They are essentially independent.
Now, in that bill:
- The members of the foundation committees are obliged to allocate the members to the Mufti if they deem necessary by the appointed Muftis.
- Additional sources of income for the mufti will be provided by donations and legacies under the management of foundation committees and funds from them.
- Foundation Committees will be able to allocate buildings for Mufti's accommodation free of charge, in return they will be exempted from the tax of those properties.
Another issue that I have brought up many times is the election of the foundation committee, which has not been held since 2008 on the grounds that its legal framework has not been completed yet.
While the election of the board of directors of the foundation committees has not been resolved yet and the term of office is being extended continuously, you ignore the main duty of the foundation committee and see the foundation's assets as a treasury and transfer this economic resource to the mufti offices that you have turned into a state office.
By making the mufti, who exercises judicial power and has a religious duty, take the oath of civil servant, you turn mufti offices into government offices. Here we clearly see the complete confusion of functions and the separation of religious freedom.
In concluding, I think these efforts are your last chance to address minority issues before the election. What is certain is that these provisions will not solve the mufti problem that you do not want to solve, there is no difference in practice with the previous mufti appointment procedure. Finally, the advisory board you created does not represent the minority and is not decision-making. The decision to appoint rests solely with the minister.
It is very clear now that you are against the minority, you did not even bother to consult with anyone. You also underestimate the role of the religious leader of the minority in this way.
I take these views seriously and demand that the Minister withdraw this law, otherwise I state that I cannot accept it and I will vote no to this law.”