Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) executive board has referred deputy Öztürk Yılmaz to its disciplinary committee over remarks on a TV station suggesting the call to prayer (adhan) should be recited in Turkish, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.
Yılmaz was the target of harsh criticism especially from the pro-government media after saying: “If the adhan were recited in Turkish, I would understand it. The Quran, too. I would like my language to be spoken everywhere.”
Under fire for his proposal to change the language of the call to prayer, Öztürk declared his intention to capture the party leadership. “You know I’m getting ready for the chairmanship, you will see me as an opponent,” Yılmaz told reporters in parliament on Friday.
Yılmaz accused CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of opposing him out of fear he would attract more support. Yılmaz also criticized Kılıçdaroğlu’s actions during the night of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Yılmaz said that he called Kılıçdaroğlu the night of the attempted coup and told him: “Give a [media] interview first, and you should condemn the coup from the start. But Kılıçdaroğlu instead took hours to give an interview.”
The call to prayer is currently recited in Arabic in Turkey. Reciting the adhan in Turkish has been a sensitive topic in politics since it was one of the symbols of the authoritarian one-party rule of the CHP in the early decades of the modern republic.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly referred to that in his political career in order to outmaneuver the CHP and consolidate his support among the conservative grassroots.
The first adhan in Turkish was recited on Jan. 30, 1932 in İstanbul, a result of the work of religious scholars of the time, and the Quran was later recited in Turkish in mosques.
The now-closed Democrat Party, which challenged CHP rule in the 1950 elections and took power, reinstalled the adhan in Arabic immediately after the election.
CHP deputy Yılmaz’s remarks on the adhan in Turkish were considered a move to strengthen Erdoğan’s hand in the upcoming local elections scheduled for March. (SCF with turkishminute.com)