Bizarre Turkish News: For the Amusement of Readers During the Holiday Season

Columnist Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian


Throughout this past year, I have collected several examples of eccentric reports or rules imposed on Turkish society. Naturally, millions of liberal and civilized Turks are unhappy with these behind the times regulations, but as long as President Erdogan is in power, such draconian measures will continue to be imposed on all Turkish citizens! Here are some examples:

— Pinar Tremblay of Al-Monitor reported that Turkey’s Diyanet, the Religious Affairs Directorate’s website, announced on February 3, 2018 that “based on the well-known words of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims are advised to eat and drink with the right hand and to teach their children to do the same because the ‘devil eats with the left hand.’” How about those who are left-handed or don’t have a right arm, wondered many members of the Turkish public?

— Ihsan Senocak, a well-known Islamic Imam, resigned from the Diyanet in February after his controversial announcement that women who wear pants are sinners destined for hell! Senocak had also announced that a man should not kiss the hand of his young mother-in-law because it could lead to temptation!

— Mahmut Acar, a local resident of nearby Incirlik Air Base in Turkey told Sputnik News that US soldiers stationed there are buying Turkish children and then taking them to the United States to convert them to Christianity.

— Yavuz Ornek, a Turkish lecturer at Istanbul University, stated on Turkish television on January 6 that Noah communicated with his son via a cell phone before the flood. Ornek also claimed that Noah built his ark with steel plates and it ran on nuclear energy! “I am a scientist, I speak for science,” the ignorant Ornek insisted.

— The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs announced that girls as young as nine years old and boys at the age of 12 can get married!

— The Diyanet also issued several fatwas (religious edicts) announcing that “Bitcoins are inappropriate at this time.” A second one stated that dyeing men’s hair black is inappropriate according to Islam. A third one forbade the purchase of lottery tickets or working at a place where alcohol is sold. A fourth one banned listening to “immoral music.” But the most controversial fatwa was the one announcing that a man can divorce his wife via a telephone call, email, text message or letter. Such means of declaring divorce is supposed to be as good as saying it to the spouse’s face. The only thing the wife has to make sure is that the text message or email is from her husband!

— Newsweek quoted a Turkish Islamic preacher announcing on the religious television station Fatih Medreseleri that men without beards “cannot be distinguished from women” and can provoke “indecent thoughts” by other men. “Men should grow beards. [Beards are] one of the two body parts that separate men from women,” Murat Bayaral stated. “If you see a man with long hair from afar, you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard, because nowadays, women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he explained, expressing the fear that men might look at members of the same sex with sexual interest.

— As I reported in an earlier article, former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc had announced that “women should not laugh out loud in public!”

According to Newsweek, the foregoing reports indicate that Erdogan is trying to take Turkey “down an increasingly religious path with a new version of Islamic nationalism. Since the founding of modern Turkey in 1923, the word ‘secularism’ was enshrined in Turkey’s constitution. But Erdogan has increasingly recommended that religion become a part of public life. Over the past year, classes on evolution have been removed from public school curricula, and the government permitted girls to wear headscarves in school, something that was prohibited in the past.”

Newsweek’s reporter Cristina Maza concluded: “Today, Turkey’s leadership faces the daunting task of determining how to govern the more religious and the secular aspects of its society simultaneously. ‘The religious in the Muslim world have reasserted themselves in a number of divergent streams. This has inevitably energized the Muslim masses in Turkey,’ geopolitical forecaster George Friedman wrote in an April op-ed for Real Clear World. ‘The secular, European culture that had dominated the country is confronting the increasingly powerful claims of the religious. The fundamental political and social question is how to create a single polity built around two divergent cultures.’”

We hope President Erdogan and his old-fashioned Imams issue more bizarre edicts in 2019 returning Turkey to the Stone Age!

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  1. State of Emergency said:

    Same in most of the world’s religions if taken literally. In the bible, specifically Paul’s views, women are mere properties who are to remain silent and under the protection and direction of their husbands. Specifically, research 1 Corinthians 7, 11, & 14. It is specially troubling if we have to point out the extremes of other religions in order elevate our position. It’s a sign of weakness and despair on our part.

    • Harut Sassounian said:

      You misunderstood what I wrote. I am not attacking any religion. I have nothing but respect for the Islamic religion. I cited examples of gross misrepresentations of the Islamic religion by ignorant Turkish Imams. I even wrote that one of the Imams was fired for giving nonsense advice! I suggest you read my column again, slowly!

  2. Hagop Varoujian said:

    Why should we be surprised that Turkey is introducing Islamic sharia law into it’s society? We know at least this is their sovereign country, they can do as they wish and choose. It truly bothers me however that the Western European democratic countries are leaving their doors wide open to such “undemocratic “ practices by leaning over backwards to accommodate them into their culture. One such example is providing so called “halal” food to a tiny minority of students of the Muslim faith.

  3. Satenik said:

    Mr .Sassoonian please write more of these funny stuff. I am sure Erdogan will give lots of “wise” ideas for us and the world to have a good laugh for another year.Thank you and Happy New Year and All the best for 2019.

  4. A.Napetian said:

    Very very interesting, very informative, thanks Mr. Sassounian, for the attention to this ‘bad news” for the poor neighboring countries of Turkey. ” God ” save us this time around. Amen

  5. Chibali said:

    Why would you want “We hope President Erdogan and his old-fashioned Imams issue more bizarre edicts in 2019 returning Turkey to the Stone Age!” ?
    Why not hope for a rise of secularism in Turkey and a re-kindling of relations with neighboring countries to build a better Mediterranean/Black-Sea corridor of prosperity and respect in an increasingly oppositional racist world?