Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) disciplinary committee on Tuesday expelled Ardahan deputy Öztürk Yılmaz over his remarks on reciting the call to prayer (adhan) in Turkish, the T24 news website reported.
Yılmaz was referred to the committee by the party executive board on Nov. 8. He later slammed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over the board decision.
In 2013 Yılmaz was appointed as Turkey’s consul general to Mosul, in northern Iraq, where one year later he was taken hostage by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists.
After 101 days of captivity, he was rescued along with 48 other diplomats from the consulate.
He joined CHP in November 2015 and was elected deputy from Ardahan and later became deputy chairman of the party.
Yılmaz was the target of harsh criticism especially from the pro-government media after saying: “If the adhan were recited in Turkish, I would understand it. The Quran, too. I would like my language to be spoken everywhere.”
The call to prayer is currently recited in Arabic in Turkey.
Reciting the adhan in Turkish has been a sensitive topic in politics since it was one of the symbols of the authoritarian one-party rule of the CHP in the early decades of the modern republic.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly referred to that in his political career in order to outmaneuver the CHP and consolidate his support among the conservative grass roots.
The first adhan in Turkish was recited on Jan. 30, 1932 in İstanbul, a result of the work of religious scholars of the time, and the Quran was later recited in Turkish in mosques.
The now-closed Democrat Party, which challenged CHP rule in the 1950 elections and took power, reinstalled the adhan in Arabic immediately after the election.
CHP deputy Yılmaz’s remarks on the adhan in Turkish are believed to have strengthened Erdoğan’s hand in the upcoming local elections scheduled for March.