Turkish opposition party blasts top religious body over Atatürk oversight

Turkey’s center-right Good Party (İYİP) on Saturday condemned the country’s top religious body over its failure to pay homage to the founder of modern Turkey, on the occasion of Victory Day marking the anniversary of the War of Independence.

The weekly Friday sermon read across mosques in Turkey, scripted by the state-run Religious Affairs Directorate, while covering the significance of Victory Day, failed to acknowledge Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, İYİP lawmaker from western İzmir province Aytun Çıray said on Twitter. 

"Atatürk was once again omitted during the Victory khutbah,’’ Çıray said, while stressing the government had "rejected’’ Turkey’s saviour. "As soon as they (the government) leaves, I am going to perform a prayer of gratitude.’’

The İYİ lawmaker went on to say that it was impossible to "stand behind’’ such a state institution.

The directorate in recent years has been increasingly accused of being used as a tool by the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and leader of the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to push an Islamist political agenda through the country’s imams, all of whom work for the body.

Victory Day, celebrated in Turkey on August 30, marks Atatürk’s launching a successful counter-offensive to defeat the occupying enemy forces.

Secular Turks see the achievements of Atatürk as being sacred and have for decades strongly rallied behind him, while the country’s Islamists see him as radical top-down reformist whose decisions undermined the role of religion in the country.

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