The latest issue of a children’s magazine published by Diyanet, the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs, which is a government agency and the highest national religious body, contains a series of cartoons glorifying Islamic martyrdom.
A colorful cartoon titled “may god bless our martyrs, may their graves be full with holy light” features dialogues between parents and children that promotes an idea of religious martyrdom. In one box of the comics, a father says to his son: “How good it is to be a martyr…” He also adds that martyrdom gives a person an opportunity “to gain the right to go to heaven.”
In another box from the comics, a girl can be seen saying “I wish I could be a martyr.” “If you desire enough, Allah will give you that opportunity,” the mother in the box replies to the girl.
A statement near the last picture reads: “Our prophet says: a martyr feels the pain of dying as much as you feel pain when being pinched.”
Another statement attributed to Prophet Mohammed says: “A martyr would love to go back to the real world and be martyr ten times more after the honoring and prestige they receive in the heaven.”
Psychologist and professor Dr. Serdar Degirmencioglu harshly criticized the latest issue of the Diyanet’s “Child Magazine” featuring the controversial comics, but said that introducing children into the ideas of radical Islam has long been part of the Turkish government’s policy.
“They want to use the drawings to transfer the message of martyrdom to children because they think it will be more attractive,” he said in an interview with the Turkish Evrensel newspaper adding that the idea of martyrdom promoted by the government describes it as a “painless death and a promise of heaven.”
“Religiosity has, in recent years, turned into a literal political tool. They do not even hide it. The Ministry of Religion was provided more money than several other ministries combined and continues intensive work for religious children,” he added.
The professor also equated the mentality promoted by such comics with the mentality of those who committed deadly terrorist attacks in Turkish Ankara and Suruc, as well as Brussels and Paris.
“Turkey is overwhelmed with the pain of these massacres and with those pursuing the mentality of religiosity. All this has led to the death of people. Exactly the same mentality that blinds people to the horrors is what the Presidency of Religious Affairs is trying to spread among the children in Turkey. The children will grow up and they will run toward death when those in power tell them to,” he told Evrensel.
Diyanet follows and promotes the orthodox Sunni Islam tradition not only in Turkey, but also abroad. On Saturday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated a new multimillion Diyanet Center of America, calling it the Turkish-American Center of Culture and Civilization.
A complex, which, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper, contains “one of the largest Turkish mosques” alongside with conference halls, basketball courts, a restaurant, Turkish bath and a cultural research center, was built by funds from Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs as well as some NGOs.
During the opening ceremony, Erdogan called the complex “a center of civilizations” and said that it would serve both American Muslims and people of other faiths, as well as promote Islam’s message of love and compassion.