EVERY CONDUCT OF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS IS A CONSEQUENCE, NOT THE CAUSE. AND NO ONE BUT THE TURKISH CYPRIOTS THEMSELVES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CONSEQUENCE. ÜNSAL IS NOT ALONE, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO HIM AND WHO APPLAUD HIM.
THE BUSTS PLACED ON THE GROUNDS OF PARLIAMENT ARE TRULY A DISGRACE. DID NO ONE WARN THE SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT? I WOULD NOT HAVE CARRIED OUT THE UNVEILING. I WOULD SAY THIS WAS “DISRESPECTFUL TO OUR LEADERS.” WHEREAS THEY ARE WAITING FOR PEOPLE TO APPLAUD THEM.
The head of the Department of Religious Affairs Ahmet Ünsal; is in the spotlight with his statements. Are we surprised? We aren’t. I am sincerely telling you, that I’m not even a bit surprised. Why? Ahmet Ünsal’s actions are the consequence, not the cause. This outcome came roaring, and what we have witnessed is only the tip of the iceberg.
It should be known above everything else that the last two heads of the religious affairs department were problematic. Both had been appointed by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs. This is what I mean when I say what we are experiencing is a consequence and not the cause. Since when did we hand over the authority of appointing our head of religious affairs to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate?
Talip Atalay had been appointed before Ahmet Ünsal. In fact, we learned how he had been appointed only after Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate had sent a letter to the TRNC Prime Ministry, that read, “We request that Talip Atalay who we appointed be relieved from his duties.”
Look, Ahmet Ünsal is not a Cypriot, he is not a Turkish Cypriot or a Cypriot Turk. He is someone who rose to the top as a Turkish bureaucrat. His beliefs, his views, his attitude, his outlook, and his way of life are known. He is what he is. He didn’t change after he came to Cyprus, this is who he has always been.
This is how he thinks. And when he expresses his views, he says, “My duty is to pass on the message of Allah, to pass on the teachings of the Quran revealed to our prophet.” And he is very comfortable, oblivious, and peaceful when doing this. His words may sound awkward to us, but they are normal to him…Because this is Ahmet Ünsal…
I had reacted during the process of his appointment. “The archives are there. What kind of an appointment is this? Do heads of religious affairs fall from the sky?” I reacted similarly to the project to take control over the Evkaf [Pious Foundations] Administration. So don’t be surprised if İbrahim Benter [head of the Evkaf Administration] becomes the next head of Religious Affairs…
Organisationally, the Department of Religious Affairs operates under the Evkaf Administration. The imams work under the Department of Religious Affairs. How quickly have we forgotten, how two imams had been appointed as members of the board of directors of the Evkaf Administration? The subordinates have become in charge of their superiors. A thank you event was organised for the outgoing ambassador for this.
There is another reality. You know how he said, “Take four wives”, “a married woman must satisfy her husband’s sexual needs”, “a woman must not refuse her husband’s invitation to bed”, “weddings are expensive now, women are very expensive, they used to take on four, there would be three others if one failed to meet expectations.” To whom were his comments addressed?
Everyone who reacted, are those who weren’t there. But there was a crowd, made up almost entirely of women who listened and who applauded. This is what we should be focusing on. It’s easy to take a swipe at Ahmet Ünsal. Such a mass exists, and it appreciates Ünsal.
Ünsal could be removed from his post in 24 hours and be gone. He would only be replaced by another Ünsal. Just as Talip Atalay was replaced. We have all forgotten what Atalay did, he has become an MP. Ünsal could be appointed as the Director of the Evkaf Administration, and life would go on the same. Unfortunately our reactions are not enough to remedy this situation.
We attempted to lynch those who argued that “we should raise our own religious officials” just because the word “religion” was used. We have religious officials who are Turkish Cypriots, who know Cyprus. We refused to hire them as teachers, and as a result, even religious studies teachers were sent from Turkey. This is the reason and the consequence is Ahmet Ünsal.
Ahmet Ünsal and those like him come here with a mission. Just like Atalay. Neither Ahmet Yönlüer nor Yusuf Suiçmez [Ünsal and Atalay’s predecessors] ever upset Turkish Cypriots. We argued with them, but over their practices. Why? Because they were well acquainted with the traditions and practices of this place…
And there are those busts placed in the garden of the parliament building. Did no one warn Mr Zorlu Töre? Did no one care to tell him “They beared no resemblance” [to the three leaders, Atatürk, Dr Fazıl Küçük and Rauf. R Denktaş]. Atatürk is not too bad, but that’s it. Denktaş’s bust is a disgrace. Dr Fazıl Küçük’s bust is “eeeh ok…” The quote at the bottom has a typo. A total failure from top to bottom.
This is what happens if you defend the busts, claiming that they were “gifted”. Particularly, when the Denktaş family had presented a bust to parliament. Whereas the bust placed is different. Even a primary school student wouldn’t do the unveiling of these badly sculpted busts and postpone it. Our “leaders” presented this as a success story.
[Photo insert: Pictures of the busts of Dr Fazıl Küçük and Rauf. R Denktaş mentioned].