Turkey’s official Friday sermon glorifies ‘armed jihad’

A sermon sent to Turkey’s 90,000 mosques for Friday prayers by Turkish state religious authorities took as its theme the importance of jihad. “Engaging in armed struggle for belief, existence, nation, survival and freedom is the highest level of jihad,” the sermon said, according to a report by online news outlets Ahval.

“The struggle we gave only yesterday in the east, west, north and south to protect this glorious nation is the most lively witness to jihad. Gallipoli, where we triumphed with Allah’s help, is the name of an existential epic, belief, bravery and determination,” said the sermon, sent to be read out at each of Turkey’s mosques by the state Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

Jihad began with the self, and winning this inner struggle would allow for victory in external struggles as well, it said. “Jihad is learning Allah’s religion from the best sources and living it in the best possible way,” it said. “And if the believer can succeed in the jihad with their own flesh, then they can have victory in the jihad against the enemies of Islam.”

However, this external jihad should not be used as an excuse to kill innocents, the sermon said. “Jihad is carried out in order to extinguish all forms of evil that have distorted mankind away from the reason for its creation,” it said. “Whoever it is carried out against and for whatever reason, attacks on innocent people can never be squared with the noble spirit and ideals of jihad in Islam.”

The head of Diyanet, Ali Erbaş, also preached the sermon while on a trip to the southern Hatay province where he met with military officials coordinating the assault on the US-armed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin.

The government of Netherlands has launched investigation on a Friday sermon on jihad issued by the Diyanet which controls thousands of mosques across Turkey and Europe, Dutch media reported. Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees was taking the Turkish preaching of jihad on Dutch soil “very seriously,” the daily De Telegraaf wrote on Saturday.

The paper said it recorded the sermon at a mosque in the northern Hoorn municipality and cited a mosque-goer who confirmed that it alluded to the Turkish army’s attempted invasion of Afrin. Koolmees did not want the Turkish-Dutch youth to be inspired by the sermon praising holy war and martyrdom amid Turkey’s offensive on the isolated enclave of Afrin in Syria.

“We have to prevent that,” the Minister said, adding he would ask for an explanation from Turkish officials. Relations between Ankara and Amsterdam are already strained due to a series of diplomatic crises rooted in last year.

In the Netherlands alone, there are at least 140 mosques operated by the Diyanet, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, which acts as the primary Islamic authority for populations of Muslim Turkish origin in other European countries and North America.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned the Dutch charge d’affaires Erik Weststrate over reports that Dutch politicians were expected to submit a motion to the parliament recognizing the killings of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as “genocide.” Some Dutch deputies are expected to submit a motion on the issue to their parliament next week according to various media reports.

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