Turkish court sentences Islamic scholar to 6 years and 3 months in prison over alleged ‘PKK propaganda’

A Turkish court ruled on Tuesday to sentence Turkish writer and anti-capitalist Islamic scholar İhsan Eliaçık to 6 years and 3 months in prison and barred him from both international travel and any travel out of İstanbul.

According to a report by online news outlet Artı Gerçek, Eliaçık was given 6 years and 3 months prison sentence by the İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court over his speech at Democratic Islam Congress in the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, which was also published in a website, with the accusation of propagating on the behalf of an armed terrorist organisation. The court has also ruled to force Eliaçık to give his signature by going to the police station every Monday and Friday. He has also been banned to go outside of İstanbul as well as abroad.

Eliaçık told Artı Gerçek that he is in a difficulty to understand the reason of the ban on traveling outside İstanbul. He said that “They have sentenced me over alleged ‘propaganda of a terrorist organization’.  I had described the Battle of Hendek, which occurred during the time of Prophet Muhammad, at one of my conferences. They have questioned me ‘why did you tell about the Hendek Battle? Did you intend to justify what happened in the region (southeast Anatolia) from religious point of view?”

Eliaçık added that “If you remember, the corpse of Taybet Ana had been kept in the streets for days. Hacı Birlik’s corpse was dragged on the street behind the panzer. And they had exposed Kevser Eltürk’s corpse as naked in Varto district of Muş province. I had criticised these human rights violations in the speech that I was tried over. I had said ‘This is an immoral war. It violates the Geneva Convention, the laws of the Republic of Turkey, the religion of Islam and even the customs of Turkish war tradition.’ They have sentenced me by claiming that these speech is a propaganda of a terrorist organisation”

Eliaçık has also assessed the prohibition over him to go out of İstanbul and said that “Previously, they did not let me to take part in book fairs. Now, they prohibited me completely to travel out of the city. Next months are a season for book fairs. Also the month of holy Ramadan is approaching. Actually they want to end my participation in these kind of activities to finish my dialogue with the public completely.”

Also evaluating the attitude of the court which gave him prison sentence, Eliaçık stated that “It is impossible for me to understand the attitude of the court. They do not know either the history nor the law. Believing that the self-governance was invented by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) they thought that everyone who defends self-governance is propagating for terrorism.”

İhsan Eliaçık, whose Anti-Capitalist Muslims played a role in widespread anti-government protests in 2013, has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish government from a religious perspective. In recent months, there have been crackdowns on religious dissenters, including the Furkan Foundation, whose leader was arrested in January 2018.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 256 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 11, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 197 were under arrest pending trial while only 58 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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