The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate has weighed in on the country’s abortion debate, siding with the prime minister in describing terminated pregnancies as “murder” on the grounds that Islam considers the fetus to be a separate human being, Hürriyet Daily News reports. "Islam prohibits abortion", Mehmet Görmez brushed all of us off.
His words sound more like a fatwa than a remark by a public official of a secular state. Although Religious Affairs Directorate was founded by the Turkish parliament in 1924 as a successor to the Sheikh ul-Islam office, it seems that the Ottoman institutions strike back now.
As a Muslim, I am against the use of abortions as a birth control method. It should be the last resort in a limited number of imperatives (health problems, rape, etc). But my opposition against the efforts of the state to pose as the guardian of the body of a citizen is even stronger. Abortion must not be banned.
The Religious Affairs Directorate was a necessity as a transitional institution after the Turkish revolution. After a few years, it become obsolete. Meanwhile, it was quickly politicizing itself as a leverage for the prime minister's office with a huge budget. Since the 50s, this institution always sided with the political power.
Today, the director of this public institution could make headlines with a political comment over a politicized social issue to appease some political leaders, while criticize the others in the opposition. And this man cannot even comprehend the fact that his words would be used by the pro-government circles as an Islamic justification to ban abortion, although there are thousands of Turkish citizens who are not even Muslims.
After Görmez's nonsensical statement, I hope that we can start talking about ABOLITION, not ABORTION. The abolition of the Religious Affairs Directorate which has become a significant obstacle in the way of democratization...