16 April 2014, Wednesday
Today's Zaman

Gov't move for delivery of sermons in local language receives applause

18 February 2013, Monday /FATMA DİŞLİ ZIBAK, İSTANBUL
An announcement made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday that imams can deliver sermons in mosques in three languages, either in Turkish, Kurdish or Arabic, according to the most widely spoken language among the mosque attendees, has received support from intellectuals who interpreted the move as a “positive” one.

Meeting with muftis and opinion leaders during a visit to the southeastern province of Mardin, the prime minister said: “I have positive views about the delivery of sermons in the mother tongue. You can give your sermons in Turkish, Kurdish or Arabic in the way mosque attendees will understand.”

“This is a very positive step,” Kurdish politician and writer İbrahim Güçlü told Today's Zaman, adding that this move will lead to further mingling of the peoples living in the country's Southeast where people from different ethnicities and languages reside.

He said the move would lead to a feeling of relief among the people in the region.

According to Güçlü, the delivery of sermons in three languages in mosques could also be seen as a step toward granting Kurds the right to receive education in their mother tongue, which has been a long-standing demand of the Kurds in the country.

He said the prime minister might be preparing the nation for such a step with his Sunday announcement.

Secretary-General of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) Üstün Bol interpreted the government's announcement on Sunday as a step toward Turkey's normalization.

“The fact that people will receive religious services in their mother tongue is an important step towards societal peace. In addition to being an individual right and freedom, the delivery of sermons in people's mother tongue shows Islam's power of unification, and the use of different languages is not a means of separation but unification,” Bol told Today's Zaman.

Speaking about the issue on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said people's needs and sensitivities are taken into consideration during religious services.

He recalled the airing of a religious program in connection with the Mawlid al-Nabi (Mevlid Kandili in Turkish) in Kurdish on TRT Şeş last year.

“If the attendees of a mosque do not know Turkish and if the imam of the mosque can speak the language of the locals, it is more appropriate for him to deliver his sermon in the language the people will understand. Yet, we don't know for the time being where this is possible. We don't have exact data on this. Currently imams deliver their sermons by taking the needs of the locals into consideration,” he said.

Mardin Mufti Dursun Ali Coşkun said the mufti's office is ready to take action for the delivery of sermons in three languages in the province, adding that such a practice is appropriate for the region.

A businessman from Mardin, Süleyman Akdağ, also hailed the move, saying: “This is what should have been done for the region. When you give a sermon in Kurdish, people will understand it better. Since most of the people in the villages know Kurdish better than Turkish, it is better to address to them in Kurdish.”


The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which launched an initiative to resolve Turkey's long-standing Kurdish problem in 2009, has taken significant steps to allow Kurds to enjoy broader cultural and political rights. To this effect, a state-run television station, TRT Şeş, which broadcasts in Kurdish, was launched in 2009 by the government. For many years, the use of Kurdish was banned in Turkey due to suppressive state policies. It is the first state-sponsored Kurdish TV channel in Turkey.

In its latest move, the government sponsored a law that was approved in Parliament last month which enables suspects to use their mother tongue in court when delivering defense statements.

Hi Rich, you obviously don't know Turkey and its Regime (totalitarian). The state controlled\controls the religion and the state interfered with religion. The secular Turkey of the past was really under military control who were anti islamic, anti minority, ant-freedom and corrupt. Erdogan is changi...
Just caught my attention... Forcing the Arabs to deliver the Friday sermon in Turkish is the most idiotic thing the Republic has done.
Kurd Kurdson
This is one of the good steps. Many more has to be taken, including instruction in mother tongue in primary schools, reversal of the place names to the originals and devolution to the provincial governments.
Kurd Kurdson
Why limit the language choises to three? Why not let people speak with their God(s) in any language they want?
Rich, it shows perhaps your complete ignorance on the subject, sorry to tell this. Government was the one that banned it in first place. Current government has a long way to rid turkey of its bitter kemalist past. The Turkish state emerged out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, which had long accom...
rich-You are right. If you have more than 90% of the population muslims then the head of the Stae whether a Priminister, or President or the Khalifa is the Grand Imam. So remember the Khalif has to be very well versed with the Sharia. And thats one of the reasons why Islam spread so fast after the ...
Muhammad AlHuseini
So why is the head of government needed to give permission for a religious activity?????????? Sounds like Turkey's head of government is also chief Imam.
Click here to read all user comments
NATIONAL  Other Titles
Erdoğan threatens judges, prosecutors in party group speech
Opposition leaders say PM turning Turkey into intelligence state
Opposition CHP leader likens Erdoğan to Hitler, Mussolini
Nearly 90 police officials purged in southeast Turkey
Nearly 280 police officers reassigned in four provinces
Twitter executives meet with Turkey's President Gül
Two officers arrested over Adana trucks released
AFAD: Number of Syrian refugees in Turkey tops 900,000
Bahçeli criticizes PM's attack on Constitutional Court
Murder suspect attempts suicide in prison
Homosexual prisoners in Turkey segregated for ‘protection': minister
AK Party politician sparks hatred against Hizmet movement
Reactions mount against ban on publication of ‘Risale-i Nur'
Prosecutor who stopped MİT trucks, two others reassigned
Ministry issues traffic tickets to 125 Gezi protesters in Çanakkale
Turkish gov't rules out May 1 rallies in İstanbul's Taksim Square
Turkish military says PKK kidnapped three workers
55 students from 30 countries captivate İzmir residents with poems of praise
HDP co-chair says MİT law only protects intelligence agency
Turkish Olympiad in Chicago held with impressive event
President's Office denies reports of Gül-Erdoğan meeting over presidential election
New paper unexpectedly shuts down, employees protest
Retirement no hindrance to good works for 12 Karabük men
Survey shows Black Sea province's people are happiest
Pro-gov't columnist resigns in protest of newspaper's deceit