On March 6, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared live on one of Turkey’s major networks, ATV. I was among columnists asking Erdogan questions, and I had the opportunity to converse with him after the program. I asked him about mutah marriages (arranged, short-term marriages accepted by Shiism) and Iran — questions I had not been able to ask during the program because of a lack of time.
It will be best to give a background on the mutah debate to readers who might not be aware. As I reported for Al-Monitor, for Gulenists who are organized within the bureaucracy and judiciary according to their clerical hierarchy, Iran and Shiites are symbols of hatred. Gulenists consistently accuse Erdogan and Justice and Development Party (AKP) ministers of being close to Iran and Shiites, and even acting as their agents. This is where Gulenist conspiracy theories about mutah marriages find their place. For example, the Gulenist media regularly features headlines about the the dangers of the mutah practice to Turkey. An attempt is made to create an image that portrays all AKP officials having contracted for mutah marriages in Iran. Most people in Turkey are not aware of the mutah practice, but the Gulenist media write about it daily.