Islamist sex with children is fine, but condemning it is illegal in Turkey

Turkey’s topmost religious authority under Erdoğan is giving permission for an illegal act under the pretext of Islamic law.

By Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute

This unpleasant story persists. Islamists, citing the hadith – a dubious source of Prophet Mohammed’s sayings written 200 years after his death and on which Islamist scholars have never agreed for 14 centuries — defend their lust for underage girls. [Here is a long list of Turkish Islamist practices of pedophilia in the past years.]

Most recently, in November, Turkey was shocked at news that a prominent Islamic sheik, the leader of a religious order fiercely devoted to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had married off his six-year-old daughter to a 29-year-old disciple. Six! The girl had been forced into sex and became a mother at 14. She complained to the prosecutor’s office, but Erdogan’s authorities apparently did not want to bother the sheik.

As she became an adult, she collected evidence of abuse, made it public, and only then the judiciary took action. Initially the court decided to try the suspects without detention, but under huge public pressure, the court detained both the father and husband. The father, in a statement, said that he was answerable only to Allah, not to a court.

At the first court hearing in January, loyalists of the Hiranur sect gathered in front of the court building “to protest the legal proceedings against their sheik.” In defense of the girl’s father, they shouted, “Allahu akbar [Allah is the greatest].” At the same hearing, the court ordered a “secrecy and media ban” on future proceedings. The trial was adjourned to February 27.

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Diyanet, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, an office under Erdoğan’s authority, shocked the nation once again when it issued an Islamic fatwa (religious opinion) shortly after the worst disaster in modern Turkey’s history: a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey’s southeast, as well as Syria, and that killed nearly 50,000 people and injured more than 100,000.

The earthquake zone of 10 provinces accounts for a sixth of Turkey’s population of 85 million.

More than 75 countries sent teams and aid for the rescue effort; the Israeli team was the second-largest. U.S. and Greek foreign ministers, in a show of solidarity, visited the area. Thousands of babies and children pulled out of the rubble now have no families. More than 300,000 Turkish families have applied to adopt parent-less children.

In a tragedy of that scale, what could be the primary concern of the suffering country’s top religious authority? Helping the relief work? Not for Diyanet.

“[F]rom the Islamic viewpoint, there is no barrier to marriage between the adopter and the adopted child.” Diyanet’s fatwa said. What?! This looks surreal, horrific. Not, it seems, in the view of Turkish Islamists. Diyanet continued:

“Although Islam recommends ‘the care and protection of orphaned children,’ it does not recognize the institution of adoption, which has certain legal consequences. Accordingly, the relationship between the adopter and the adopted child does not create a barrier to marriage, nor is it permissible for the adopted child to be registered in the genealogy of the adopters instead of their biological parents.”

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Secular Turks were once again outraged. In his Twitter account, prominent columnist Fatih Altaylı wrote:

“We understand that you are really perverts, but what are you doing in an institution like the Diyanet? Perverts. Go into the porn industry.”

‘Grave insults’

There is a legal problem, as well. The fatwa runs up against the Turkish Civil Code, according to the Istanbul Bar Association’s Center for Children’s Rights. Article 129 of the Civil Code bans marriage between an adopter and an adoptee, and Article 500 grants adoptees the right of succession, the Center said, noting that Diyanet’s statements should not be against the Constitution or the laws.

As the Turkish government’s topmost religious authority under Erdoğan, Diyanet is giving permission for an illegal act under the pretext of Islamic law: no obstacle for adoptive parents to marry, and consummate the marriage with, the adopted children who survived the earthquake.

Then a worse blow hit: Diyanet has filed a criminal complaint against Fatih Altaylı on the grounds that he shared “grave insults against the institution and its personnel” on social media. If Altaylı is to be blamed for his tweet, his only wrong should be that he did not insult a pedophilic religious institution enough.

Not only that. Erdoğan’s focus is not on the relief effort or on the national agony. Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, RTUK, suspended the television stations Halk TV, KRT and Tele1, for three days and fined another, Fox TV, on grounds that “their coverage of the earthquake was unjustly critical of the government.”

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A general election is scheduled for this spring. The Turkish people and NATO deserve better.

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey’s leading journalists, was recently fired from the country’s most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.