Nurettin Yıldız, a controversial cleric and a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, demanded a fatwa from Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) suggesting that supporters of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish government and Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup in July, be executed, their opposing hands and feet be amputated or be exiled instead of keeping them in prisons.
In a video published on July 25, Yıldız said the Religious Affairs High Commission, a body of the Religious Affairs Directorate responsible for issuing fatwas, must advise the Turkish government not to feed the jailed followers of Gülen in state prisons.
“The Diyanet cannot say it has done its part by ordering imams to recite salâ (call to funeral prayer) on the night of the coup. The Religious Affairs High Commission must speak up about this [Gülen movement] group. If it is not able speak against it, it must declare the basic criterion [to punish them]. For example, how the Quran punishes those involved in terror in Surah al-Ma’idah. It says ‘Kill them, execute them, order their opposing hands and feet be cut off or exile them.’ There are no prison terms. The Religious Affairs Directorate and its high commission must direct the government [for punishing Gülen followers]. This Muslim nation will have to feed those people [Gülen followers] for more than 20 years in prison. Thousands of people will be more of a burden to the state than a town is,” Yıldız said.
Earlier, Yıldız, the president of the Social Fabric Foundation (Sosyal Doku Vakfı), had sparked a public reaction after he argued that marrying a 6-year-old girl is legitimate. In addition to this remark that caused outrage, Yıldız also said it is a sin to watch a woman news anchor on TV and that women should be grateful to be beaten.
In an interview with the state-owned Anadolu news agency, Yıldız voiced support for Erdoğan, saying that it was a requirement of his faith to support the president.
Yıldız himself admitted his connection to jihadist groups in Syria in a letter he wrote right after the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi, was killed in September 2014 in a suicide attack on a high-level meeting in Syria’s Idlib province.
In the letter dated Sept. 10, 2014, Yıldız recalls how he made a trip to Idlib to meet Abu Abdullah and how they discussed the jihadist fight against infidels. He described the killing of Abu Abdullah as “a great loss to the cause,” regretting that his invitation to host him in Istanbul had not come to fruition.
Following the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov by a police officer in Ankara on Dec. 19, It was reported that the gunman, police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, had attended the sermons of Yıldız.