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Turkey's Top Religious Official Backtracks on Critique of Izmir

Some speak out after Mehmet Gormez, Director of Religious Affairs, says Izmir has a different kind of religiosity that needs the wisdom of religious traditions, Tulin Daloglu writes.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan chats with Head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Gormez (R) during the summit of religious leaders from Muslim countries and communities in Africa at the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul November 21, 2011. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTR2UA6H

When someone says something and then feels that it needs an explanation, it is a clear signal that something is wrong.

That is exactly what happened to Mehmet Gormez, Director of Religious Affairs. What he touched upon was something so sensitive that it mirrored all the arguments concerning what Turkish democracy really means if the state is controlling religious practices, and whether there is a way forward under an Islamist-oriented ruling party for people to also exercise the right of freedom from religion. In a free society after all, everyone should be free to choose how they reach God, or not.

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