Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an ex officio investigation against the Ankara Bar Association because of its statement denouncing Turkey’s top mufti Ali Erbaş who, during his Friday sermon on April 24, alleged that LGBT people were the source for evil and epidemic.
Ali Erbas who is the president of the Directorate of Religious Affairs is a civil servant and supposed to act in line with the constitutional principle: secularism.
Presidency of Religious Affairs
Art. 136 (the Constitution)- The Presidency of Religious Affairs, which is within the general administration, shall exercise its duties prescribed in its particular law, in accordance with the principles of secularism, removed from all political views and ideas, and aiming at national solidarity and integrity.
Ankara Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against Erbaş on grounds that he incited hatred against LGBT people and stated followings: “If Erbaş remains in office despite his remarks about LGBTI+s, women and children, no one should be surprised if, in his next speech, he calls on people to light torches and burn women as witches at the squares.”
However, the Government and the Ruling Party furiously defended Mr Erbas and lashed back to Ankara Bar Association.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said in a tweet that “Those who speak against Allah, who created the time and space, are disappointed both in this world and in the afterlife.”
Fahrettin Altun, the Director of Communications, also tweeted in support of Erbaş, saying that “the principles of Islam cannot be questioned by those who impertinently attack Erbaş.”
Spokesperson of the ruling party, Ömer Çelik called every jurist to denounce the Ankara Bar Association.
After finally, the Minister of Justice denounced the Bar with a written statement, Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, on April 27, initiated an ex officio investigation against the Ankara Bar Association as per Article 216 § 3 of Penal Code.
Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, on April 28, initiated an ex officio investigation against the Diyarbakir Bar Association as per Article 216 § 3 of Penal Code for its statement dated April 26 denouncing Ali Erbas who is the president of the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
Art. 216 § 3 of the Penal Code: a person who publicly degrades the religious values of a section of the public shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to one year, where the act is capable of disturbing public peace.
Erinç Sagkan, the president of Ankara Bar Association, reacted the investigation with tweets saying “We have learned that an investigation was initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office because of one of our statements aimed to defend the most fundamental human rights which are legally guaranteed by international and national laws, and in no way constitutes a crime. This investigation is now the line between a secular, democratic Republic and darkness.”
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