As political tension escalates ahead of a critical referendum on Sunday on a switch to an executive presidency, a worker at the Istanbul Municipality said if the constitutional amendments are approved, naysayers’ wives and daughters will be halal, or permitted, as plunder and sex slaves for “yes” voters.
“Dear friends. The CHP [Republican People’s Party] clearly declared war and has been fighting at full force. They have spread the aggression they launched in Parliament on ‘yes’ voters with their words and deeds. When we win the war on April 17, the wives and daughters of those who vote ‘no’ will be halal to ‘yes’ voters as plunder,” said Ömer Akbayrak, a worker at the İstanbul Municipality, in a social media message on Tuesday.
“In fact, it is necessary to check the laws of war in Islam. When I said ‘halal,’ it means they can be your concubine. In any case, let us win the war first; then we can think about it,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
Akbayrak also likened naysayers to Nimrod and Pharaoh, saying: “They declare war and we wage jihad, and we will have booty until Judgment Day.”
The municipality announced that Akbayrak has been suspended and that an investigation has been launched into him.
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 on Thursday that casting a “yes” vote in a referendum on April 16 is a fard, the Islamic term for a religious obligation.
Karaman had also said that the “no” voters in the April 16 referendum are opponents of Islam.
Imams of mosques have also been participating in the government campaign. An imam in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district accused naysayers of “treason” and “ignorance,” while an imam leading a group of Turks during Umrah in Mecca labeled naysayers as “infidels.”
Speaking during a live show on the pro-government Beyaz TV in early February, Vehbi Güler, a theologian and a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, pointed out that it was Satan who said “no” to God’s order to bow down before Adam and implied that those who vote against the amendment package in the April referendum are similar to Satan, who challenged God’s orders.
Sacit Arvasi, a US-based Turkish theologian whose religious sermons are widely popular among his Facebook followers, blasted pro-government circles for misleading people about religion by attributing divine characteristics to President Erdoğan and asked, “Do you consider him to be God?”
Criticizing recent remarks by a pro-Erdoğan cleric declaring people who plan to vote against Erdoğan’s desires to be partners of Satan, Arvasi angrily said, “Keep your dirty hands off our religion, our faith, our Quran.”
The ruling AKP, backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The CHP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
The reform will enable Erdoğan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party and govern until 2029.
The plans foresee presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms.