RELIGION >Istanbul prosecutor rules against trying Muslim televangelist who said ‘chess is more sinful than gambling’


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The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office on April 21 ruled against trying a Muslim televangelist who said “playing chess is more sinful than gambling,” state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

Plaintiff Mücahit Bayraktar had applied to the Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office over Muslim televangelist Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, popularly known as “Cübbeli” Ahmet Hoca (Robed Ahmet Hoca), claiming that Ünlü “incited hatred and enmity among public” over his controversial remarks on chess.

In a video circulated on social media in January, Ünlü said chess players were “cursed” and claimed that “most people who played chess are liars.”  

“Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork ... People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada [declaration of Islamic belief] while they are dying,” Ünlü said. 

“People who play chess are cursed ... You should count your prayer beads instead of playing games like this,” he said.

The televangelist had said in his plea that his remarks were within the context of freedom of thought and expression, adding that he uttered his remarks on chess citing a catechism by Turkey’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

The prosecutor’s office on April 21 ruled for the nonsuit, saying the suspect had not “incited hatred and enmity” and his remarks fell within freedom of thought and expression.

Ünlü had previously hit headlines on Nov. 14 in 2014 by condemning the European Space Agency’s (ESA) successful landing of the Philae probe on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, describing the mission as “maniacal.” 

More recently, he waded into a debate on the religious permissiveness of oral sex, slamming a colleague for describing it as religiously forbidden and saying there is no such ban in Islam.


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