The jihadist militants who have been committing atrocities in the name of Islam cannot belong to the faith, Turkey’s top cleric has declared, while also voicing his desire to visit the Gaza Strip together with religious scholars when conditions permit.
“When pronouncing the name of these kinds of formations, please abbreviate. Use the abbreviated names because its long name has a very sacred and a very holy name like Islam,” said Mehmet Görmez, the head of the Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), speaking at a press conference on Aug. 19.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been responsible for atrocities across northern Iraq and Syria, recently renamed itself the Islamic State (IS).
Tens of thousands of Yazidis have fled their ancient homeland of Sinjar in northern Iraq and other villages to escape a dramatic push by the militants, who regard the ethnic minority as devil worshippers. According to Görmez, such incidents cannot be explained through concepts belonging to Islam’s own history and civilization or concepts from the Quran.
“These can only be explained maybe through words and concepts of medicine and psychiatry. They are societal [sicknesses] which are formed by combining injured consciences and fatal identities with ignorance under the shadow of insanity and violence. It is not possible to find these [sicknesses] in Islam or in any sect of Islam,” he added.
“What Islam outlined is sustaining their lives like everybody and as equal citizens, their freedom to live their faith and that they do have the same rights and responsibilities like any citizen. Understandings and views other than this are alien for religion and Islam,” said Görmez, the highest religious authority in Turkey, which, although a majority Muslim country, has been a secular state since the 1920s.
Meanwhile, 52.9 million Turkish Liras have been collected as part of an aid campaign for Gaza coordinated by the Prime Ministry’s Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), Görmez said.
“God willing, as soon as the gates are opened, I will be extremely honored and glad to visit [Gaza] along with a huge delegation of scholars,” he said.
When asked about tensions between local Turks and Syrian refugees living outside of refugee camps, which have boiled over into violent protests recently in the southern province of Gaziantep, Görmez suggested that such problems emerged from “organizational mistakes.”
“By reviewing the organization, God willing, I hope these problems will decrease,” he said.