Voting for Turkey’s elections on religious organization premises in Lyon sparks criticism


Voting for Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections in a hall provided by the French branch of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) in Lyon has sparked criticism in France, according to the TR724 news website.

According to TR724, French lawmaker Sarah Tanzilli has filed a complaint with the Lyon Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office concerning the use of the hall for Turkey’s elections.

Elected officials and community groups have condemned the fact that Turkish citizens living in France were made to vote in a hall provided by a federation of mosques seen as the “arm” of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Le Monde reported on Monday.

The Islamic union was set up in Germany in 1984 as a branch of Turkey’s Diyanet and funds around 900 mosques in Germany. Its branch in France runs more than 250 mosques across the country and is responsible for imams sent from Ankara to the country.

The French Interior Ministry had been informed at the end of April of the “illegal nature of holding the election in this manner” and did not voice any objections, Le Monde said.

According to Article 80 of France’s law on secularism (1905), “holding political meetings on premises usually used for the exercise of a religion or in any outbuilding that constitutes an inseparable accessory” is prohibited.

According to a decision by Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK), Turkish citizens living abroad started casting their votes for the presidential runoff on May 20, with the voting ending tomorrow.

Turkey’s presidential election will be decided in a runoff on May 28 since neither President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan nor the opposition’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was able to secure 50 percent of the vote needed for election to president in the first round on May 14.

According to the official results, Erdoğan received 49.52 percent of the vote, while Kılıçdaroğlu garnered 44.88 percent.

Election security has been a significant concern in Turkey, with various issues arising during past elections. One of the main concerns involves the potential political interference in the operations of the YSK and the state-run Anadolu news agency, which could affect the fairness and transparency of elections as well as the announcement of results.

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