Official cleric suspended by Turkish gov’t for criticising presidential system in sermon

A Turkish cleric in Turkey’s Black Sea region was suspended from his job for criticising Turkey’s presidential system, which was approved in a controversial referendum last year and has been criticised for granting the Turkish presidency sweeping executive, legislative and judicial powers, the critical Sözcü daily reported.

“Atatürk chose a republican system since the presidential system is equivalent to a sultanate,” Kemal Türksoy, a deputy mufti in Zonguldak province said during his sermon last Friday. The comment led to the official to be removed from his job by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).

Members of the congregation complained to the Prime Ministry Communications Center (BİMER), citing Türksoy’s delivery of a “political sermon.” The mufti of Zonguldak province, Rüstem Can, confirmed the suspension. “He has been asked to submit a defence. An investigation into the matter is ongoing,” he said.

Turkey’s constitutional referendum – which transformed Turkey’s parliament-centred political structure into a presidential system while also granting the Turkish presidency sweeping executive, legislative and judicial powers – took place on April 16, 2017.

The constitutional changes approved by the referendum dictate that in the event of early elections, both the parliamentary and presidential elections would be moved up to be held simultaneously, which occurred when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for snap elections earlier this month. The elections are set to take place on June 24, one and a half years ahead of schedule. (SCF with Ahval)

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