One of Turkey’s most popular Muslim televangelists has issued a religious license to kill militants from the Islamic State group, just days after a suicide bomber staged a deadly suicide attack on a cultural center in a southern Turkish town. The bombing in Suruc left at least 31 people dead and resulted in a spill over of violence from war-torn Syria.
“If you run across them, slaughter them," Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, a religious cleric known for his sensational statements on television, wrote in a Thursday newspaper column, Hurriyet Daily News reported. "Those who kill them will be awarded and those who are killed by them will be martyrs.”
The decree came as Turkish police launched a wide-ranging crackdown on the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, following Monday’s bombing in Suruc, and cross-border fighting between the Turkish military and ISIS militants stretched from Thursday evening into Friday. The crackdown has also targeted the outlawed Kurdish organization, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which staged a series of retaliatory assassinations against alleged ISIS supporters and Turkish security forces.
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Ünlü, like many other religious leaders across Turkey and the Middle East, has been a vocal critic of ISIS ideology. In the past, he has referred to ISIS militants as “barbarians” and to their mission in Syria and Iraq as a “pseudo-jihad,” Hurriyet reported at the time. This week, he called ISIS militants “the dogs of hell." The Turkish state appointed security for the televangelist following threats made against his life by supporters of ISIS in February.
Ünlü, popularly known by the name “Cubbeli Ahmet Hoca,” is known for his edgy statements on television. He recently received international attention after publically engaging in a debate with a noted Islam expert after the individual alleged that oral sex was a forbidden act in Islam, International Business Times reported.