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Turkish society: Of sex and Islam 26 janvier 2013

Posted by Acturca in Religion, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Economist (UK) no. 950

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Even for imams, discussing sex is no longer taboo. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes that one of the keys to prosperity is a young population. He would love to ban abortion and he nags families to have at least three children. His campaign received an unexpected boost from a respected Islamic theologian, who said on a popular television show that sex was a form of worship. « Sex is a part of worship and, indeed, is the same as namaz (Muslim prayers), » Ali Riza Demircan told Haberturk TV. A conservative backlash then forced him to clarify that sex and prayers were not of equal virtue.

To the delight of TV channels, the Islam and sex debate is growing noisier. A young Islamic counsellor, columnist and TV host, Sibel Uresin, has jumped in, saying that « the path to proper namaz goes through proper sexual union. » Mrs Uresin (her name means « should reproduce ») also believes that polygamy should be legal because « the Koran says so. » To prove her sincerity she has « offered » a friend to her husband.

For Muslims struggling to reconcile their faith with desire there is much online advice. « Is oral sex acceptable? » asks a troubled soul. « To have the tongue touch impurities such as sperm and urine is disgusting, » replies Nureddin Yildiz, a preacher, on fetvameclisi.com, an Islamic website. « Still, all else is free between a married couple, » he adds by way of reassurance.

Pious intellectuals have other worries. At a recent gathering of « anti-capitalist Muslims » many complained about Mr Erdogan’s tilt to authoritarianism and his support for rebels fighting Syria’s president, Bashar Assad. « What are Muslims doing to combat violence? » asked Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, a female theologian and fierce critic of the prime minister.

It is a question Turkish journalists are increasingly loth to raise. Until recently the taboo subjects were the army and the Kurds. « Now it’s Syria that can get you sacked, » says Fehim Tastekin, foreign editor of Radikal, a liberal daily. Sex and Islam « is a safer bet ».


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