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05/27/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  The Religious Affairs Directorate of Turkey, known as the Diyanet, continues to grow in power and influence. With a budget of 1.6 billion USD, it ranks 13th out of 40 public entities funded by the government, and in the first quarter of 2021, the Diyanet spent more than the Foreign, Tourism, Industry, Trade, and Environment ministries.

At the heart of the Diyanet is Turkish President Erdogan’s desire to raise a “pious generation”. The efforts to Islamize education under Erdogan and the Diyanet have increased drastically. Under their guidance, there has been an increase in schools to raise Muslim clergy, private schools linked to Islamic orders, and Islamic teachings in public schools.

The Diyanet represents only Sunni Muslims, yet all Turkish citizens pay taxes towards its funding, regardless of their beliefs. The institution oversees 90,000 mosques and facilitates pilgrimages for some 125,000 Turkish citizens. As its influence has grown inside Turkey, the functions of the Diyanet began to look outward. The Diyanet Foundation, linked to the central government institution, collects zakat and general donations and claims it has become “a huge civic society movement” with more than 1,000 branches across Turkey and international outreach to 149 countries.

In 2016 the former head of the Diyanet, Mehmet Gormez, said “The Diyanet has become the Diyanet of all Muslims, not just Turkey’s. It has grown into an establishment to which our brothers in Central Asia, the Balkans, Africa and other regions go for [support on] religious services and religious education.”

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].