Cemil Kılıç, a Turkish theologian and religious teacher, was removed from his post at a high school in İstanbul on Tuesday following recent remarks suggesting that atheists lead a more ethical life than pious Muslims, Turkish media reported.
In an interview with the Turkish edition of Deutsche Welle on Jan. 6, Kılıç made an assessment of the results of a public survey conducted by the Konda polling company which among other things found that there has been a rise in the number of people who identify themselves as atheists in Turkey.
While 1 percent of Turks described themselves as atheists in 2008, it rose to 3 percent in 2018. Two percent of Turks characterized themselves as “unbelievers,” up from 1 percent in the same period, according to Konda’s poll.
“In today’s Turkey, atheists are leading a life that is more compatible with the [principles] of [the Muslim holy book] the Quran and which is more ethical. Praying five times a day is done as a sign of obedience to the government,” said Kılıç in the interview with Deutsche Welle in remarks that attracted criticism from government supporters.
The pro-government Yeni Akit newspaper has targeted the theologian on many occasions, describing him as an enemy of the religion and calling for his dismissal from his teaching position at the Rami Atatürk Anatolian High School in İstanbul.
Kılıç announced from his Twitter account on Tuesday that he has been fired from his job and called for everyone’s support for a protest he plans to make against the decision on Wednesday.
The theologian is also facing charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his critical stance against the government.