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.”

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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.


Italian TV chef serves up cooking lessons at Gaza prison

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago

Italian TV chef serves up cooking lessons at Gaza prison

GAZA: An Italian TV chef is serving up a taste of home cooking in the unlikeliest of places: a Gaza jail.
Gabriele Rubini, a former rugby player who reinvented himself as Chef Rubio, is teaching 10 inmates at the prison near Gaza City how to make the perfect pasta — as well as learning about Palestinian cuisine.
“My target is to share with them all I know and I want to learn from them all they know,” he said during his 10-day trip to the enclave with an Italian NGO.
He said Palestinian food shares many similarities with that of Italy.
“Around the Mediterranean Sea all the cultures were mixed,” he said. Chefs “use not many ingredients, good quality and it is all about sharing the food.”
A longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause, Rubini has been sharing his experience in Gaza with more than 750,000 fans via his Facebook page.
Speaking to AFP, Rubini said he worked in prisons because “jail is a place where there is a lot of humanity.”
“Someone made a mistake and can in jail (be) reborn and be a better man in the outside world,” he said.
Islamist movement Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2008 and have fought three wars with Israel, which maintains a crippling blockade on the impoverished territory.
Rubini’s pupils, serving time for non-violent crimes, said they took inspiration from the cooking lessons.
“This is a great training opportunity,” said Sami Baraka, who has served most of a two-year sentence.
“I’m going to open an Italian restaurant in Gaza.”

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