Interview with Prof. Dr. Ali Bardakoglu, President of Religious Affairs of Republic of Turkey
Prof. Dr. Ali Bardakoglu:
I DO NOT THINK THAT RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN TURKEY HAVE ANY PROBLEMS REGARDING THE FULFILLMENT OF THEIR RELIGIOUS SERVICES OR THE TRAINING AND APPOINTMENT OF THEIR RELIGIOS LEADERS; BUT IF THERE ARE PROBLEMS, THEY SHOULD BE SOLVED
If WE ONLY RESPECT THOSE WHO THINK AND BELIEVE LIKE US, WE WILL TURN LIFE ON EARTH TO HELL.
THE HALKI SEMINARY ISSUE SHOULD BE SOLVED WITHIN THE SCOPE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Ankara (A.A) -02.01.2010- Eda Ay- Prof. Dr. Ali Bardakoglu said he did not believe that religious minorities living in Turkey had any problems regarding the fulfillment of their religious services or the training and appointment of their religious leaders; however, if they have any problems, they should be solved
Bardakoglu pointed out that the issue of Halki Theological School should be solved within the scope of religious freedom.
In an exclusive interview with Anatolian Agency correspondent on religious liberties in Turkey, Bardakoglu said that it has been a common understanding for everyone to live in love and respect without being subject to any discrimination due to belief or unbelief. He also stressed that the Presidency has always been on the side of religious liberties.
Expressing that being respectful for the members of different religions does not necessarily mean the appreciation of their religions, Bardakoglu noted, however, if we only respect those who think and believe like us, we will turn life on earth to hell."
Emphasizing that everybody has the right to believe what he/she wants and to live accordingly, Bardakoglu went on to say:
Everybody believes what he/she wishes and gives his/her account to Allah. We believe in the rightfulness and uniqueness of Islam. However, we show respect for the members of other religions and recognize their liberties. In fact, this has been our lifestyle since the Ottoman era. Therefore, I believe that religious minorities in Turkey always enjoy liberties, and know that nobody in Turkey is treated contemptuously because of his or her religion, belief or sect. Humiliation, insult, and discrimination due to belief in a different religion have no place in our religion. Thus, we clearly see that Christians and Jews living in Turkey have equal rights as citizens. They perform their own religious and educational services and choose their religious leaders freely.
Bardakoglu said St. Paul Church, which serves as a museum in Tarsus, was one of the oldest churches of Christianity and also noted, "we have expressed our view that it should be opened and served as a church again."
Our biggest virtue has been to secure self-reliance in our own identity and religion and to grant rights and liberties to the members of other religions for centuries Bardakoglu said. He also noted, those who have self-reliance in his own religion, culture and identity will recognize others liberties.
TRADITION OF TOLERANCE
When he was reminded of the researches showing that tolerance towards different religions in Turkey have been declining, Bardakoglu said that discriminative and politically oriented controversies, recently produced political tensions in the field of religion, and religious aggressions such as Cartoon Crisis and Islamophobia all over the world had influence on Turkey. Therefore, the tradition of tolerance which exists over centuries may be declining in these days.
When religious debates are handled in the political context and when accusations against religions and their members are produced by making generalizations, people usually tend to see members of other religions with different perceptions. Religious minorities in Turkey have equal rights as equal citizens. We should be respectful to religious rights and liberties. If there is a failure in terms of liberties, it should be corrected. I do not think that religious groups in Turkey have any problems in terms of the fulfillment of religious services and the education and the appointment of religious officials. If there is any problem, it should be solved. And if there is a Christian community somewhere and they want to build a church, we should help them. Bardakoglu said.
Noting that the issue of Halki Theological School should be solved within the scope of freedom of religion, Bardakoğlu said that these issues can be easily negotiated and solved within the context of religious liberties.
MUSLIMS CALL FOR THEIR RELIGIOUS RIGHTS IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD TOO.
Pointing out that Muslims living in different parts of the world demand their religious rights, Bardakoglu said Muslims could not benefit adequately from religious freedoms in the regions like the Balkans, Western Thrace and Georgia. In many regions, they have struggled for their religious, cultural and social properties, and the construction of their mosques. Regardless of the presence of Muslim communities, many mosques have been used for different purposes.
Expressing that these false practices must be solved, Bardakoglu emphasized that Muslims living in such regions should be enjoying their religious life without being subject to assimilation policies.