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Rostrum and chairs put inside İstanbul mosque for politicians sparks criticism

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Adverse reactions have been growing since a rostrum and several chairs were placed inside the Fatih Mosque in İstanbul so that a senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) politician could deliver a speech during a ceremony over the weekend, the Kronos news website reported.

AKP Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş and executives from the AKP’s local Fatih branch attended a graduation ceremony for hafizs, people who have committed the entire Qur’an to memory, trained by Kemal Efendi Foundation, a pro-government religious foundation, under the supervision of İstanbul’s mufti.

Kurtulmuş delivered a speech during the ceremony at the mosque.

The rearrangement of a house of worship for political purposes was harshly criticized. “No such thing exists in the history of our civilization. It is not appropriate to bring such things into mosques. I’m not saying it’s religiously forbidden, but our culture does not condone this and it is not proper. It is not proper to place the presidential seal inside a mosque. Mosques are for worshiping, and they should not be repurposed,” former Ankara Mufti Mefail Hızlı said.

Former Beyoğlu mufti and former İstanbul lawmaker İhsan Özkes said the placement of a rostrum and chairs for government officials inside the mosque cannot be endorsed as “a mosque is a house of God, and God’s servants are equal in places of worship.”

The furniture for the senior politicians made inside the Fatih Mosque was also slammed by social media users. Linguist Necmiye Alpay tweeted, “The symbol tells the truth. The ‘chair’ is in the mosque,” while analyst and politician Aydın Sezer likened the arrangement to a teahouse, saying, “The only thing missing is a hookah.”

Ankara lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Gaye Usluer tweeted: “Let’s analyze this picture. Chairs are placed inside the mosque. Some people sit in the chairs. ‘True’ community members are sitting on the ground. This is proof of how the ruling party instrumentalizes religion for its political aims.”

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