Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, went beyond the budget allocated to it from the state and spent TL 3 billion more in 2018, according to a report from the country’s Court of Accounts, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.
The Court of Accounts has released the Diyanet audits for the year 2018, according to which, a budget of TL 5.1 billion was allocated to the Diyanet at the beginning of 2018, but the directorate exceeded its budget by 60 percent.
The Diyanet used up its budget in the first six months of 2018 for the payment of the monthly salaries of its personnel. By the end of 2018, it had spent a total of TL 8.4 billion from the state budget.
The Court of Accounts’ report suggests that the Diyanet exceeded its budget mainly because of the payment of salaries and social security expenditures.
As for the revenues of the Diyanet, thanks to publication of religious books, it earned TL 2.1 million with interest income. Given the fact that earning interest is forbidden in Islam, many have begun to question if the Diyanet, which preaches to Muslims about the rules of Islam, abides by these rules itself.
The Diyanet, an official state institution, runs 85,000 mosques in Turkey and 2,000 abroad and has a staff of 150,000. It has been criticized for following mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam and being “indifferent to the diversity of Turkish Islam.”
Over the past several years the Diyanet has also attracted criticism for mixing religion with politics and openly supporting the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).