Turkey’s Diyanet dismisses imam for giving rock concerts

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) on Friday dismissed an imam who started a rock band and gave concerts in the country and abroad, according to the pro-government Demirören news agency.

Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, who became an imam in 1990, gave his first concert in 2013 after forming his rock band with two other musicians. In 2014 he took the stage in the US and in 2016 in Portugal. Tüzer was previously investigated by the Diyanet and was given two reprimands and two warnings.

In 2016 he was demoted from the position of imam by the Diyanet and assigned as a civil servant in a local religious office; however, a Turkish court overruled the Diyanet’s decision after an appeal by Tüzer.

This time the investigation concerned “giving concerts for money and without permission.”

Tüzer, however, insisted that he sought permission for every concert. “During my life as an imam I was a spiritual guide to various people from all walks of life. I made them love our religion’s values. I presented Islam’s different faces to the world,” Tüzer said. He will appeal his dismissal from the Diyanet as well.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan compared the staff and imams of Turkey’s religious body Diyanet to “an army of 140,000” during a speech at an event titled “Meeting with Religious Officials” and said: “From such an army we cannot get the results we expect. We should work more.”

Erdoğan addressed imams at the presidential complex at a meeting marking “Mosques and Religious Officials Week” and expressed his gratitude to all the religious officials who had called on people to rise up against a controversial coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016.

Erdoğan’s militant Islamism had earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred. He had publicly read an Islamist poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…” He was sentenced to 10 months in jail but was freed after four months. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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