Erdoğan cleric: Right to life will be granted to ‘no’ voters, too

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) presented an award to Hayrettin Karaman in 2014.

Hayrettin Karaman, a leading theologian and issuer of fatwas, or religious edicts, for ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) circles and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote in a column that Muslims would grant life to “no” voters in an April 16 referendum since they grant the right to life Jews, Christians and believers of other faiths.

Writing for the staunchly pro-government daily Yeni Şafak on Sunday, Karaman described “no” voters as people who have been alienated from their own values, civilization and culture and said: “Since Muslims grant the right to life in their own societies to Jews, Christians and members of other faiths, since they establish relations with them within a framework of justice and goodwill, they will surely grant the same right to parts of their society who are alienated from their own values, core civilization and culture.”

Karaman expressed his disagreement with the “no” camp in the April 16 referendum which opposes an executive presidency and said they are also parts of the country and nation.

Earlier in March, Karaman had said Turkey should acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) including nuclear arms to stand up to the West.

“We need to consider producing these [WMDs] rather than purchasing them, without losing any time and with no regard to the words [of caution] and hindrance from the West,” Karaman wrote in a column.

The cleric claimed the West is interfering in the Islamic world in general and in Turkey in particular through its economic and military powers. He added that the West, including the US, accumulated wealth by exploiting the East, shed blood and destroyed Eastern values.

“Let’s invent [these WMDs], balance [the West] out, but let’s not use weapons of mass destruction unless it is necessary; the way to not resort [to WMDs] is to possess weapons that are equal to or more powerful than the ones the enemy has,” he explained.

Karaman, a well-respected figure among political Islamist groups in Turkey and regarded in high esteem by Turkish President Erdoğan, has been openly campaigning against interfaith dialogue efforts led by US-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen.

In February Karaman said the people must help the government in a purge of the faith-based Gülen movement. He also said the mistakes made during government purges must be ignored.

Karaman had also said that the “no” voters in the April 16 referendum are opponents of Islam.

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