Turkish Professor: "Those Who Do Not Do Islamic Daily Prayers Are Animals"
by Robert Jones
Robert Jones, an expert on Turkey, is currently based in the UK.
From the article:
Many Muslims claim that the Islamic month of Ramadan is not simply an exercise in fasting during the day. It is, they say, a chance for "a spiritual boost," "mental peace" or "a moral awakening."
During Ramadan, however, it often seems as if hate speech and intolerance are as rampant as ever, possibly even more -- especially with the "Ramadan TV programs," which are popular.
With the advent of Ramadan, Turkey has not opened only the season of fasting; it has also opened the season of "Ramadan Intolerance."
This frequently consists of statements which threaten or dehumanize those who do not fast. During this season, many national television channels and social media users in Turkey disgorge hatred against those who do not carry out the strictest Islamic requirements.
Turkish professor Mustafa Askar, at Ankara University's School of Divinity, said on the "Joy of Ramadan" program, aired on the state-funded TRT channel: "Those who do not do Islamic daily prayers are animals."
Askar proclaimed, on June 12, that "no beings other than humans touch the ground with their foreheads [to do sujud, the position of worship in which the forehead, nose, both hands, knees and all toes touch the ground together]. Human beings, he said, were created in a "salah[worship] ergonomic" way, and that is why "humans do sujud."
"Let me put it straight," the professor said. "Salah is not done by animals. Those who do not dosalah are animals."
Yasin Ceylan, a professor of philosophy at Ankara's Middle East Technical University, reacted to Askar's statements on his social media account:
"If the claim that 'those who do not do salah are animals' comes from a professor, that could serve as an excuse for the massacres carried out by a terrorist organization such as ISIS. If killing an animal is not considered murder, those who do not do salah may be killed, too.
"Moreover, if the faith of those who fail to do salah is different from that of the professor, murdering them could even bring sawab [a reward for Islamic good deeds]. Such are the views that feed the perverse faith and doctrinal background of Muslim terrorists. The main source of violence is the judgments of minds. Is this professor aware of the fact that with this claim of his, he could cause the murder of so many innocent people?"
Askar, after being criticized by many for his remarks, told the pro-government daily newspaper,Akit:
"My words have been distorted by the enemies of Islam who almost every day hurl insults at Islam and Muslims. I have not strayed from the views I expressed. I am not taking a step back from my words. This is a scholarly evaluation. ... I said what I think is right. But I made a mistake in my choice of words. If there are those offended by my mistake, we apologize."
When journalists asked Nurettin Canikli, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, during a press conference in Ankara on June 13, about his views on Askar's statements, Canikli said, "I shall pass on this topic."
Meanwhile, on the June 13 edition of the "Blessing of Ramadan" television program, broadcast on the pro-government Star TV, a viewer asked, "Is it vacip [a religious obligation] to kill those who do not do salah [Islamic daily prayers]?"
"Decrees about giving certain punishments do not rest with individuals," answered Fatih Citlak, the presenter of the program and also a columnist for the pro-government daily, Haberturk.