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AKP advice to Soma: Don’t protest, just pray

The AKP mobilized 500 imams along with strict security measures to deal with the disaster-stricken mining town of Soma.
People mourn at graves for miners who died in Tuesday's mine disaster, at a cemetery in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa May 18, 2014. Turkish police have detained 18 people, including mining company executives and personnel, as part of an investigation into last week's mine disaster, CNN Turk and other broadcasters reported on Sunday. The rescue operation ended on Saturday after the bodies of the last two workers were carried out, bringing the death toll in Turkey's worst industrial

“Waiting for death is the most difficult,” said a survivor of the Soma mining disaster. He was rescued within six to seven hours of the catastrophe and watched several of his coworkers die from the deadly gases. The survivor continued: “Some were shivering, others were saying shahadateen (Muslim prayer right before death), we prayed.” Every religion and culture has its rituals of respecting death. When the news of the Soma mine explosion broke, the government immediately deployed 80 imams from Manisa province (Soma is a town in Manisa). Ali Kenanoglu, head of the Hubyar Sultan Alevi Culture Association, penned a column for Evrensel daily explaining that the Directorate of Religious Affairs — operating under the prime minister’s office — assigned 500 imams to Soma along with 10 psychologists. The number raised concerns as the number of imams exceed the number of deaths, now put at 301.

In addition, Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz was seen on camera greeting a delegation of senior imams. These imams were members of a prominent religious group, Ismailaga Cemaati. Yeni Akit, a conservative daily, reported that Ismailaga Cemaati sent 50 imams to Soma. In addition, the Ministry of Education approved that the Imam Hatip (Religious Vocational) schools all around the country read the Quran and prayed for Soma victims and families. It was mind-boggling to view pro-government TV channels during the peak of search and rescue operations reporting the prayer sessions of various religious groups.

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