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Tuma Çelik: “A Religious TV set up in a democratic country has the responsibility of approaching equally to all beliefs.”

Tuma Çelik: “A Religious TV set up in a democratic country has the responsibility of approaching equally to all beliefs.”
  • 08.09.2018




A new channel has been added to the three media bodies of the Presidency of Religious Affairs. The Diyanet Vakfı -Foundation, which is affiliated to the Presidency of Religious Affairs, established a private television channel in the past days and received a broadcast license from RTUK by the name of “Diyanet TV”. The channel will broadcast religious programs according to the RTÜK principles.

Upon this news, HDP Mardin deputy Tuma Çelik asked 6 parliamentary questions on the issue of not broadcasting about other religions and denominations in 4 different broadcasting organizations belonging to the Presidency of Religious Affairs. Çelik asked the Deputy President Fuat Oktay these questions, indicating the definition of the secular state and the human rights mentioned in Article 2 of the Constitution.

After the presentation of the parliamentary questions, SAT-7 TÜRK had a special interview with Tuma Çelik.

  * We know that 4 different media bodies are supported by the Presidency of the Religious Affairs. What are the issues you are addressing on the parliamentary questions to the Deputy President?


“We want the dominance of human rights in Turkey and we fight for the laws (whether you like them, or not, or you try to change them) to stay in vigor. The parliamentary questions what we asked are also in this framework. You know, according to the Constitution, Turkey is a secular state and it has promises and obligations to carry according to the Treaty of Lausanne. We have prepared these questions in advance with all of this in mind. If Turkey is a secular state, it cannot make any distinction between the religions and must serve equally to all citizens.  If it is going to serve a group, it has to serve all. It must have the same approach. You know, all the countries in the world are concerned with how well democratic structures fit into the legal boundaries they have. If people or powers in a country are harmonizing with existing laws, this place can be defined as a democratic, just and fair country. They even claim that one of the most developed democratic countries in the world is England, even though they do not have legal, written constitutions. The reason is that all the people, especially the royal family, obey not only existing laws, but also the unwritten rules accepted by the society, they conform to the rules; so they are a democratic secular country. In Turkey, unfortunately there are laws and practices which cause discrimination. One of them is the media and broadcasting issue under the supervision of the Presidency of Religious Affairs. We prepared this question bearing this in mind: If the Republic of Turkey is a secular democratic country, an institution such as the Presidency of Religious Affairs cannot exist. If it is necessary, it must be equal to all beliefs. Faith is an issue related to the relation of the person with God. Nobody should ever be involved in this. But if this institution exists, it has to be open to all the citizens equally. In this framework, if a television channel or television broadcast bodies will be created, these broadcast bodies must serve also to Christians, Jews, Ezidis and Alawis and they must benefit from it according to their proportions of the population.”


Related to our question “Did the minority groups request to be have media bodies where they can represent and tell themselves?” Çelik said that, first a particular change of logic is needed in Turkey. He added “Before everything, it must be recognized that we are in a secular democratic country, the discriminatory factors must be eliminated, and different religions exist. When this change of logic will be realized, Christians, Jews, Ezidis, Alawis communities would already take steps.”

He continued: “In Turkey, there are a few radio stations and television channels (belonging to the religious minorities) and they are standing through their own efforts. However, they are constantly facing with the pressure of the state. They have to calculate each step which they are taking. This reveals that there is discrimination. The first condition to eliminate this discrimination will be possible to acknowledge that Turkey consists of different linguistic structures of different identities. It does not matter if those people will establish or not (their medias). First, Turkey must accept that, Christians and Jews exist in Turkey. Turkey is obliged to serve all the beliefs, if it wants to be democratic. Because the taxes are collected from also those people.

It starts accepting it, then it will come out when it is accepted. If Turkey develops an understanding in this regard, there are groups who would love to benefit of it. There are many different beliefs, like Assyrians, Protestant Christians, and other beliefs, as well as Alawis. What is being done and what we criticize is that the State itself opens a television channel for a single belief. When a Christian wants to do this, he must afford it. What we are criticizing now is a little different. The state lunches an Islamic channel with the possibilities that it has received from me, with my own means. It can lunch. It should lunch. It will not bother me. He does not recognize the same right to Christians, Syrians, Jews, Armenians, Ezidis. Why the State does not give some of the five cents he gets from my pocket to Christians and Jews? This is the point that we criticize as our understanding. Everyone in the state has to be equal. The Republic of Turkey is a secular country and needs to approach equally to all the faiths. Diyanet TV that will be established in a country which is close equally to all beliefs, must serve also the Christians and Jews.”

* When the logic associated with different beliefs will change, would this effect on the reactions which the non-Muslim religious media bodies in Turkey are facing?

“Unfortunately, many people are a lot to say on the matters which they don’t know in Turkey. Especially in the media we see this very clearly. For example, someone can come out and comment on a television about Christians. Why do you define Christians on the basis of your own truths? Let the Christians make know themselves.

If I do not have the right to define another believer as a Christian, a person with a different belief should not have the right to define a Christian. That’s why there’s a serious confusion.Turkish people don’t know nor Christians, nor Alawis, nor Ezidis, neither as needed. Because, these communities are not allowed to speak, whoever speaks among them are not being listened, what they say is not taken into consideration. Some of people are trying to come out and identify us with their narratives, and none of these narratives define us. Because I do not define myself in that way. I do not believe that the Bible descended from the sky. Christians do not believe that. According to Christians, the Bible is the life of Jesus Christ, the reception of his discourses and the transmission of it in the paper. If somebody defines the Christianity saying that the Bible came down from the sky and it has been changed, it does not identify my faith. This people do not know that.

Everyone has the own faith. No one has the right to impose a certain mold on anyone, as everyone has to define himself in his own way. If our demand will be accepted, all the beliefs will be able to define themselves on television and this mess will come to an end. So, everyone will have a common channel to express themselves. This will eliminate the confusion in Turkey and we will have more positive results. “(SAT-7 TÜRK / Burcu Teymur)


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