Muslim televangelist who urged to replace chess with praying acquitted in Istanbul

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled against trying a Muslim televangelist who said “playing chess is more sinful than gambling,” Anadolu Agency reported.

Plaintiff Mücahit Bayraktar had applied to the Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office over Muslim televangelist Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, popularly known as 'Cübbeli' Ahmet Hoca, claiming that Ünlü "incited hatred and enmity among public" over his controversial remarks on chess.

“Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork ... People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada [declaration of Islamic belief] while they are dying,” Ünlü said. 

“People who play chess are cursed ... You should count your prayer beads instead of playing games like this,” he added.

The televangelist had said in his plea that his remarks were within the context of freedom of thought and expression, adding that he uttered his remarks on chess citing a catechism by Turkey’s top religious body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

The prosecutor’s office ruled for the nonsuit, saying the suspect had not “incited hatred and enmity” and his remarks fell within freedom of thought and expression.

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