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Turkey’s Top Cleric Warns Thailand Against Islamophobia

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Measures should be taken to prevent European-style Islamophobia from spreading to Thailand, says Mehmet Gormez

Turkey’s top cleric Tuesday warned against letting Europe’s Islamophobia similarly plague Thailand, saying measures should be taken to prevent this.

“We need to make a great effort in order to prevent the wrongful thoughts and hateful sentiment based on Islamophobia -- which has started engulfing Europe -- to spread to the Thai people,” Mehmet Gormez, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, said after meeting with visiting Thai Muslim religious head Aziz Phitakkumpon in Ankara.

Five percent of Thailand’s population of 68 million is Muslim.

Hailing Islam as a “merciful religion,” he added, “We have a duty to carry this mercy to all of humanity again.”

Gormez stressed the importance of strong religious education in order to avert false ideas about Islam.

“I place great importance on the Islamic university that we founded in [the southern region of] Pattani, for this reason.”

He also expressed his pleasure over Thai youths studying in Turkey’s religious schools.

“Hopefully, these youths studying in Turkey will carry Thailand’s historic and religious experience into the future by strengthening, as they return to Thailand.”

For his part, Phitakkumpon described his visit as an important step for bilateral ties and Thai Muslims.

“We Thai Muslims would like to learn about the model of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the administration of [Islamic] foundations, religious education, and scholarly developments from the Religious Affairs Directorate," he said.

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