İstanbul imam accuses potential naysayers in referendum of treason

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An imam in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district has accused people who will vote against a constitutional reform package that introduces an executive presidency in Turkey and will soon be put to a referendum of treason and ignorance, sparking criticism from some mosque attendees, according to a report on the odatv news portal on Monday.

The incident reportedly took place at the Ümraniye Modoko Mosque on Feb. 3. While imam Hüseyin Güleç was delivering the Friday sermon, he talked about infrastructural improvements in Turkey during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule and urged the mosque attendees to vote “yes” in the referendum while lashing out potential “no” voters.

Enumerating the names of some of the infrastructure projects during AKP rule, Güleç said: “Who are the naysayers today? They are the ones who are against the world’s largest airport. They are the ones who can’t tolerate the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge…”

Some of the mosque attendees reacted to the imam, telling him not to do politics in a mosque.

“We are all in a mosque. There are some who are thinking of voting ‘no’ in the referendum among us. This is a mosque,” said some of the attendees.

When faced with criticism, Güleç took a step back and said he respects both “yes” and “no” voters.

Many imams in Turkey are being criticized for acting like AKP mouthpieces and mixing religion with politics.

The referendum on the constitutional amendments will be held in April. Pro-government circles are carrying out a vigorous “yes” campaign, and some government supporters are even threatening potential “no” voters in the referendum.

There are widespread fears that the executive presidency will create one-man rule in Turkey and end the separation of powers.

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