Preaching in a mosque in Umraniye on Friday, Imam Huseyin Güleç called citizens who will vote ‘No’ in the upcoming presidential system referendum “traitors”. Citizens worshipping at the mosque reacted to the imam’s statements. Incident reported by many in Turkish local media.Turkey is steadily approaching it’s April referendum on moving to a presidential system of government, and the government is using it’s statements to target citizens who intend to vote ‘No’. Recently, people distributing fliers for the No campaign in the streets have been detained.
In addition, imams have begun to preach support for the Yes campaign in their mosques. On February 3, 2017, Imam Hüseyin Güleç of Ümraniye Modoko Mosque included propaganda for the Yes campaign in his Friday sermon, accusing those who would oppose the presidential system of carelessness and treachery.
In his sermon Imam Güleç said: “They are trying to ruin the morale of the shopkeeper by claiming that the economy is getting worse. The economy is getting better, not worse”. Güleç continued to target those who say the economy is getting worse.
Imam Güleç listed the names of bridges and highways that have been opened during the period of AKP rule. “Who are these ‘No’ voters today? They don’t want the biggest airport in the world. They can’t stomach the Yavuz Selim Sultan Bridge. Shame on them. Still they use [transport infrastructure projects such as] Marmaray, Eurasia, and Esen, without shame.”
When the Imam said “These are the killers who tried to shatter the stability of this nation during [the coup attempt on] July 15th”, the crowd in the mosque reacted, warning the imam and reminding him that there are people in the mosques thinking of voting ‘No’.
After this reaction. Imam Güleç correcting his statement, saying: “We are respectful to people who are going to vote ‘No’, and to those who will vote ‘Yes’. Everyone is free to express their opinion.”
A day after the dispute reported on Turkish media, Turkey’s top Imam, head of Religious Affairs Directorate made a statement saying, there is an investigation launched on the imam.