Turkey: Land of Mosques, Prisons and the Uneducated

One way the rise of Islamist authoritarianism in a country can be seen is by the rise in the number of mosques, religious schools and prisons — coupled with a sharp decline in the quality of education. Turkey is no exception.

Most recently, the Turkish government said that it would build 174 new prisons, increasing capacity by 100,000 convicts. This is Turkey’s reply to complaints that six convicts must share a cell built for three. Convicts say they must sleep in turns in their bunk beds.

Before that, Turkey’s government released nearly 40,000 convicted criminals, in order to make space for tens of thousands of suspects, including journalists, businessmen and academics, detained after the failed coup of July 15.

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There Goes Turkish Secularism

At least a thousand Muslims worshipped in the mosque of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidential palace in Ankara on August 6. They performed a ceremony known as dhikr (“remembrance” in Arabic).

This event was heavily criticized by the country’s many secularists on the social media.

According to a video of the event, the Islamic cleric Ali Yetkin Sekerci, also known as “Galibi Sheikh Ali Yetkin Sekerci,” had the dhikr filmed. Sekerci often leads dhikr rituals in mosques.

Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara, in January 2015, that the presidential palace (or complex) would be re-named the “Presidential Kulliye” and would contain a mosque, convention center and a national library.

“Kulliye” refers to an Ottoman architectural concept of buildings that surround a mosque and are managed by the mosque.

While the Turkish-language website of the Turkish Presidency refers to the presidential palace as “the Kulliye”, the English website refers to it as “the Complex.”

The Millet Mosque, opened in Erdogan’s kulliye in July 2015, is a huge mosque can hold as many as 3,000 people. During the opening ceremony, Erdogan said: “Wherever there is a dome, a minaret today, we know it is the homeland of Muslims.”

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