Don’t flirt or hold hands — Turkey clerics

Istanbul. — Engaged couples should refrain from flirting, holding hands and “other behaviour that are not endorsed by Islam,” Turkey’s religious affairs agency declared yesterday.

Answering the question “is it appropriate for those who are engaged to be married to be able to see each other?”, the agency, known as Diyanet, set out where the limits lay for those who plan to tie the knot in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey. “There is no harm in engaged couples meeting to get to know each other, as long as they follow the rules of privacy,” it said in a statement on its website.

“But engaged couples need to refrain from flirting, living together, staying together in a way that could give rise to gossip, holding hands and other behaviour that are not endorsed by Islam,” it added. While many Turks embrace European lifestyles in Istanbul, the Aegean coast and Ankara, traditional Islamic values and religious conservatism hold sway in much of the country. In many areas, sex before marriage is not only a taboo but simply out of the question.

Turkey’s religious affairs agency Diyanet was established in 1924 to oversee religion in the modern secular Turkish Republic following the abolition of the Islamic caliphate in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. — AFP.

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