An imam who led prayers earlier this summer as part of a campaign of civil disobedience organized by BDP to protest religious services offered by the Turkish state, including state-appointed imams serving in mosques, has appeared in photographs allegedly dating from last month in the holiday resort of Bodrum which show him in a swimming pool with a woman who may be his girlfriend.
The imam, Übeydullah Özmen, heads the Anatolia Men of Religion Association (ADA-DER), an organization affiliated with PKK.
A report published in Takvim on Wednesday claims that the woman shown in the pool is romantically involved with Özmen. The daily also reported that Özmen has a wife, Ruhaşah, and the couple has children. The imam's family was in Ankara at the time the pictures were taken, Takvim said.
Commentators claim ADA-DER was established specifically for the purpose of changing the PKK's image as an organization indifferent to religion. Since June of this year, members of ADA-DER, including Özmen, have been leading prayers as part of a civil disobedience campaign launched by the BDP in which imams recite prayers and deliver sermons in Kurdish. The call to prayer before these meetings is also made in Kurdish. Currently about 5,000 imams are members of ADA-DER. They also lead funeral prayers and other ceremonies that call for men of religion, such as circumcision ceremonies.
Özmen's daughter, Hacer Özmen, is a member of the Executive Council of the BDP's Ankara branch. She has also been spotted attending pro-PKK demonstrations, and has been criticized for being used by the PKK as a token to appeal to religiously conservative Kurds.
Cihan news agencyLast Mod: 07 Eylül 2011, 17:09