The Turkish government has moved to ban Islamic funerals for all deceased suspected coup supporters, warning imams not to carry out ceremonies, a decision made in the wake of last Friday’s attempted overthrow of the Erdogan government.
The once moderate, secular country directly employs Turkey’s estimated 75,000 imams, and the maneuver by the Erdogan administration, to deprive his opposition of burial rights, would appear to signal that the leader does not view those accused of participating in the coup as true Muslims. The move is considered an attempt to undercut the influence of exiled US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accuses of masterminding the coup.
The Religious Affairs Directorate made the decision official on Wednesday, announcing that imams would not lead prayers for "pro-coup soldiers who targeted our nation."
The official death count from Friday’s failed coup attempt is uncertain, with reports ranging from 260 to 290 people killed, although the Turkish government asserts that at least 145 civilians were killed and around 20 were coup participants.
The religious indignity for Ankara’s perceived adversaries is taking place concurrently with a wide-ranging government purge of those accused of supporting the attempted coup. Encompassing thousands in education, police, military and political establishments, some 50,000 individuals have been arrested or suspended from their duties, according to Reuters reports. Turkey’s Education Ministry told Reuters that the country has revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers working in private institutions.
In the aftermath of the coup, many Western analysts believe that the Erdogan administration will now be able to tighten its grip within the Turkish civil service, purging domestic opposition and dissent of any nature, whether tied to the coup or not. Erdogan appeared to affirm the supposition, calling the coup a "gift from Allah."
French President Francois Hollande said, less than 24 hours after the attempted coup, that he expected "repression" during the aftermath of the coup.
Yet many are now wondering whether Erdogan has overplayed his hand. Based on apparent illusions of grandeur, he is directly accusing the United States of participating in the coup plot, while his Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, warns that Turkey will go to war with any country that supports Fethullah Gulen, the imam Erdogan blames for all his political troubles.