Turkey issues fatwa allowing government loans for housing projects

There has been debate about whether the Diyanet has become political following the dismissal of some imams who failed to follow guidelines set by the religious authority. (REUTERS)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Turkey issues fatwa allowing government loans for housing projects

  • Fatwa was approved by the Diyanet’s High Council of Religious Affairs, with a majority voting in favor of it

JEDDAH: A new fatwa from Turkey’s top religious authority on Tuesday said that the government was allowed to take out loans with interest for its public housing projects.
The fatwa was issued by the country’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet. It said that taking out loans with interest was a sin except for the government’s public housing projects. “However, taking interest loans from the banks for setting up a new business or buying a car is a sin,” it added.
The fatwa was approved by the Diyanet’s High Council of Religious Affairs, with a majority voting in favor of it. According to the Diyanet, the distinction resides in the government’s aim of providing housing for low- and medium-income households, and the ruling is valid only for public banks.
Ali Gul, a lawyer who is an expert on taxation issues, criticized the decision. “Based on such a fatwa, private banks may claim that their intention is not obtaining interest income, but just contributing to the economy,” he told Arab News. “So, in this way, the interest loan that private banks apply also becomes lawful religiously. This religious edict means that when the state receives the interest, it is permissible.”

SPEEDREAD

There has been debate about whether the Diyanet has become political following the dismissal of some imams who failed to follow guidelines set by the religious authority.

There has been debate about whether the Diyanet has become political following the dismissal of some imams who failed to follow guidelines set by the religious authority.
Among those sacked was an imam who disagreed with a Diyanet fatwa disallowing women to enter supermarkets without their husbands. Another cleric was also dismissed recently, due to his musical activities in a rock band.
The Diyanet budget, which exceeded TRY10 million ($1.8 million) in 2019, is also a talking point in Turkey because its expenses last year surpassed the overheads of six ministries.


Yemeni president in US for annual medical checkup

Updated 13 August 2020

Yemeni president in US for annual medical checkup

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi touched down in the US for his annual medical checkup on Thursday, the Yemeni Embassy in the US said.
Ambassador Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak received Hadi at the airport in Cleveland, Ohio, where the appointment is due to take place, and “reaffirmed his utmost best wishes to the president for continued good health,” the embassy said in a brief statement.
Hadi left for the US after appointing a new governor and a new security chief in Aden, and mandating new Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to form a new government. Hadi has travelled regularly to Cleveland for medical treatment since becoming president in early 2012, reportedly suffering from heart problems.
Saeed asked the governor, Ahmed Hamid Lamlis, to focus his efforts on reviving public institutions in Aden, restoring peace and security and fixing basic services that have been hit hard by years of instability. The official Saba news agency reported that the prime minister pledged Lamlis his government’s full support.
Saeed also entered discussions with various political factions in Yemen with a view to forming his government. Abdul Malik Al-Mekhlafi, an adviser to President Hadi, said on Twitter that the administration would be announced within a month, as the internationally recognized government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) enacted security and military components of the Riyadh Agreement.
The STC recently rescinded a controversial declaration of self-rule under a new Saudi-brokered proposal to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.
Signed by both sides in late 2019, the agreement was designed to end hostilities in Aden and other southern provinces. Under the deal, the government and the STC were agreed to withdraw their forces from contested areas in southern Yemen, move heavy weapons and military units from Aden and allow the new government to resume duties.
Meanwhile, a judiciary committee assigned by the country’s attorney general to investigate reports of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Aden’s port found hat the material was in fact a different fertilizer, urea, which could also prove hazardous if mixed with other materials.
In a letter addressed to the Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation, Judge Anes Nasser Ali, a local prosecutor, ordered the port’s authorities to remove the urea from the city.
Shortly after the tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut last Tuesday, Fatehi Ben Lazerq, editor of the Aden Al-Ghad newspaper, ignited public uproar after suggesting 4,900 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in 130 containers had been gathering dust at the port for the last three years, which could cause an equally destructive explosion. The story prompted the country’s chief prosecutor, politicians and the public to call for an investigation.