Turkey issues new Friday prayer directive

Jan 26, 2016

by Tulay Cetingulec

As Turkey grapples with terrorism and myriad social and economic problems, an unexpected controversy has moved on to the country’s crowded agenda. A Jan. 6 directive issued by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu allows public employees to take time off for Friday prayers: “In line with freedom of religious faith, guaranteed by the constitution and related laws, employees of public institutions and establishments who so desire will be given time off for Friday prayer if its time overlaps with working hours without causing a loss in working hours.”

Twitter users were quick to react. Some saw the circular as an affront to the secular system. “Bye bye secularism, bye bye republic, hello Afghanistan!” one user wrote. Another remarked, “Today schools and teachers off for Friday prayer, tomorrow students and soon Friday a full holiday.” Some saw the directive as an attempt by the government to distract from other controversies and problems. “This time they must be trying to distract attention from the Hitler issue and the price hikes,” wrote one person. Others saw the move as putting pressure on less religious employees. “There was already permission for Friday prayer, especially in public offices. Now, those who don’t go will be fingered. Let them not go now if they dare,” one man commented.

Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu, a prominent lawyer petitioned the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court, to quash the directive. He argued that the authority to determine working hours belonged not to the prime minister but to the Cabinet. “The purpose here is to flout the secular legal system under the pretext of freedom of faith. Rearranging daily working hours during Ramadan will be brought up next,” asserted Eminagaoglu.

In remarks to Al-Monitor, Eminagaoglu said he was in favor of freedom of religions, but argued that the circular had effectively suspended the unalterable constitutional provision on the Turkish republic’s secular character. He recalled that a similar effort had been turned back in the past by a court ruling later backed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“In 1997, the Cabinet issued a decision adjusting working hours during Ramadan to the fast-breaking hours. The arrangement was annulled by the Council of State, and the Constitutional Court deemed it an act contravening the secular system. Objections were then brought before the ECHR, but the ECHR found no irregularity in the [annulment] ruling,” explained Eminagaoglu.

“Not long ago, [female] attorneys were allowed to attend court hearings wearing headscarves. Now, judges have come to wear the headscarf, too. Tomorrow, working hours during Ramadan will be adjusted to the fast-breaking hours despite legal rulings to the contrary. A political and judicial transformation is under way. The latest directive could lead to the blacklisting of those who do not go to prayers,” Eminagaoglu further asserted.

Read more by clicking on the name of the source below.


9 comments on “Turkey issues new Friday prayer directive

  • 1
    NearlyNakedApe says:


    Now, those who don’t go will be fingered…

    A rather unfortunate choice of words from the writer of the article. It makes the alternative to prayer sound like a significantly more unpleasant option than what he really meant to convey.

    And I’m bending over backwards to put this as delicately as possible here.

    Report abuse

  • Just another incremental phase in Islamic Jihad- seen all over the world in
    so many forms. No doubt I will get flak from liberal thinkers here- which is
    exactly how jihad progresses.
    Western denial & delusion has reached farcical & dangerous levels. Freedom
    of expression is now a criminal offence in some countries; what is to become
    of democratic ideals in the face of Islamisation?
    Our media and ‘leaders’ insist on the ROP lie despite death sentences on many
    brave critics who are smeared and demonised. TRUTH is the new HATE SPEECH.

    Would-be Caliph Erdogan has put Turkey on the slippery slope to extremism.

    Report abuse

  • While I can understand why some people might consider this a slippery slope and an attack on Turkey’s staunchly secular state I nevertheless think these fears are unfounded. What the government is doing is merely acknowledging what a large number of people want in a country whose population is still predominantly religious.

    It is pointless of Turkey to deny its Islamic heritage and culture and suppress harmless expressions thereof for the sake of God knows what, not to mention counter-productive. After little more than a century of rigorously imposed secularism – and its de facto corollary, atheism – it is a bit premature to expect, after nineteen hundred years of Islam, for people to just abandon practicing the rituals associated with their faith and attempts at making them do so by force will prove both fruitless and unnecessary. Turkey shouldn’t be wasting time arguing over such petty minutiae.

    Report abuse

  • Ipse Dixit
    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    and its de facto corollary, atheism


    Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the word!

    Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people

    In other words – not allowing any one religion or sect to use the government machinery to impose THEIR religion on others.

    Turkey shouldn’t be wasting time arguing over such petty minutiae.

    With Islamic State taking over chunks of Syria and Iraq and killing Christians, right next door over the border, who’s bothered about a “trivial” matter such as an Islamic take-over of the government in violation of the secular constitution?????

    it is a bit premature to expect, after nineteen hundred years of Islam, for people to just abandon practicing the rituals associated with their faith

    1900 ???

    Ah! That “tolerant, respectful” Caliphate!! – from Ottoman times and earlier!! – With all those captured Christian slaves and concubines!

    Report abuse

  • Ipse Dixit
    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Turkey shouldn’t be wasting time arguing over such petty minutiae.

    After all – What’s a bit of clandestine pro-Islamic activity by a secular government – and imprisoning journalists who expose it??

    Two Turkish journalists face life in prison over a story alleging that the Turkish government was arming Islamist militants in Syria.

    Cumhuriyet newspaper’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and its Ankara representative Erdem Gul have been charged with espionage.

    Prosecutors accuse them of working with a US-based cleric to discredit the government.

    The harsh punishment being sought has intensified press freedom concerns.

    EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said he was “shocked” at the severity of the sentence sought by prosecutors.

    Human Rights Watch said the two “were doing their job as journalists and no more than that”.

    In its report last May, Cumhuriyet published video of police finding weapons in trucks that it said were linked to Turkish intelligence.

    Mr Erdogan said the video footage was a state secret and vowed on TV that the journalists “would pay a heavy price”.

    Report abuse

  • Ipse Dixit
    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    it is a bit premature to expect, after nineteen hundred years of Islam, for people to just abandon practicing the rituals associated with their faith and attempts at making them do so by force will prove both fruitless and unnecessary.

    It’s “faith” so I suppose ISIS and others reintroducing this culture is OK – at least in the view of some who perhaps have not really done their homework on the history of Caliphates and Islamic theocracies!

    Prophet Muhammad himself, during the course of inaugurating a tripartite paradigm of Islamic slavery via his military campaigns and raids against the citizens of Arabia, enslaved some of the Semitic peoples of the region. The prerequisite for being enslaved in Islam for domestic or industrial labour; sex slavery and concubinage; or chattel, is not based on race but on being a non-Muslim war captive. As the Islamic Empire expanded out of Arabia via North Africa and into Europe, war captives of all shades – brown, yellow, black and white – were relegated to slave status.

    Very little is known in mainstream circles, of how White slaves fared in the Islamic Empire, in spite of the fact that they very well existed in the hundreds of thousands and more. White Eunuchs were visible throughout the Empire; in sizeable numbers in Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. At the slave markets, the purchase price for White eunuchs fared differently from Black eunuchs. White sex slaves also priced differently than Black sex slaves.

    Report abuse

  • Ipse Dixit
    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    it is a bit premature to expect, after nineteen hundred years of Islam, for people to just abandon practicing the rituals associated with their faith

    Those advocating actions or inactions which can have far reaching consequences, really should base their views on properly researched information, rather than faith-thinking advocating more faith-thinking!

    The first year was the Islamic year beginning in AD 622 during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred.

    Report abuse

  • Meanwhile, it seems to be “business as usual” when it comes to Cameron’s government authorising arms sales to further the spread of Wahhabi Islam and its associated abuses!

    The government should stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid claims civilians are being killed with UK weapons in the Yemen conflict, says a group of MPs.

    The International Development Committee says evidence is “overwhelming” the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels has violated humanitarian law.

    The committee called for the UK to support an international inquiry into the alleged abuses.

    The government said it has a “rigorous” arms export control system.

    In a letter to International Development Secretary Justine Greening, the committee said the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia had risen “significantly” during the conflict.

    It said close to £3bn worth of export licences for arms had been granted in the last six months.

    They include £1bn worth of licences for bombs, rockets and missiles issued in the three months to the end of September last year compared to £9m of licences awarded over the same period the previous year.

    We are shocked that the UK government can continue to claim that there have been no breaches of humanitarian law by the coalition and not only continue sales of arms to Saudi Arabia but significantly increase them since the start of the coalition intervention into Yemen,” said the cross-party committee.

    “We are convinced that there is more than a clear risk that weapons sold to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    “The evidence that we have heard is overwhelming that the Saudi-led coalition has committed violations of international law, using equipment supplied by the UK.”

    The committee’s intervention comes after a leaked UN report found the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthis had targeted civilians in air strikes in a “widespread and systematic” way.

    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.