A leading Turkish professor has been branded a “lunatic” after claiming people who do not pray are “animals”.
He said: “The verse of the Koran says animals do not perform prayers and those who do not perform prayers are animals.”
A spokesman for Turkey’s religious affairs department has condemned the remarks, made during the holy month of Ramadan.
“But it is unacceptable to denigrate or insult people by targeting their freedom of faith and worshipping.”
Askar’s inference of verses from the Koran goes against Islam’s “language of wisdom and its messages of mercy”, he added.
He added: “If it constitutes a crime, necessary investigations and prosecutions are carried out by our prosecutors and our courts.”
Freedom of religion is guaranteed under Turkey’s constitution but critics claim president Recep Erdogan has launched a crackdown.
Speaking to local media, he added: “I’ve read the Koran. This is neither a verse nor a saying. I think this individual is a lunatic.
“The ones who are animals are actually those who let him appear on such an important broadcasting company like TRT.”