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World - Europe

Turkish faithful question meaning of devastating quake

Mourn
For many Muslims in Turkey, the meaning behind last week's quake is still being debated

 
VIDEO
CNN's Walter Rodgers goes to a mosque to learn the thoughts of religious Turks on the earthquake
Windows Media 28K 80K
 GALLERIES:
A country lies shattered

The story of a rescue
InteractiveINTERACTIVE:
Chronology of major earthquakes over the last 20 years
imageMESSAGE BOARDS:
Turkey Quake
iconRELATED AUDIO
Click here to listen to reactions to the earthquake in Turkey

August 27, 1999
Web posted at: 7:44 p.m. EDT (2344 GMT)


In this story:

Divisive debate

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



From Correspondent Walter Rodgers

GOLCUK, Turkey (CNN) -- Muslim faithful gathered in mosques across Turkey on Friday in a mass outpouring of grief, many praying to understand the meaning of the disastrous earthquake last week that killed more than 13,000 people.

In the hardest-hit city of Golcuk, men wept as the mufti prayed "God, never again send us a disaster like this earthquake."

The prayer leader reminded Muslims of the prophecy of the Koran -- that on Judgment Day there will be earthquakes and other natural disasters. This quake was a warning, he said, a call to repent.

Though Turkey is officially secular, its population is overwhelmingly Muslim. Many devout followers see the quake as divine punishment for turning away from Allah.

Too much sin, immorality and infidelity plague society, some conservatives believe. Others accuse the secular government and military, which have struggled for decades to keep religion out of Turkish politics, of defying God's will.

During this month's total solar eclipse in Turkey, there was too much revelry, one worshipper in Golcuk said. "We got what we deserve because we forgot Islam," he said.

Divisive debate

The question of why the 7.4-magnitude quake struck Turkey has divided many Muslims in an inconclusive theological debate.

"I still believe in the mercy of God," one Golcuk resident argued to another. But he failed to convince his colleague.

"We're bad, bad people," the other man countered.

Others merely pick through what's left of their lives and scoff.

"Are the Americans punished because they have tornadoes?" one woman sneered.

And despite their trauma, most still refuse to blame God for the suffering.

"If we blame this on God, it's unfair to the dead and their families," one Turk said. "Are those who died so sinful and we are so innocent?"

While it's unlikely Turks will reach consensus on why such a catastrophe hit the nation, there is one prayer they all can agree on: "Please God, don't show us anything like this again."



RELATED STORIES:
Istanbul probes contractors as homeless total rises
August 27, 1999
Turkey raises taxes for quake relief as Istanbul market skids
August 26, 1999
Possible cries for help stir hope of another quake rescue
August 26, 1999
Turks turn anger toward government as quake relief continues
August 25, 1999
Turkish leader admits mistakes in quake response
August 24, 1999
'Miracle of God' found in quake rubble; others feared dead
August 23, 1999

DISASTER RELIEF SITES:
Turkish Republic Earthquake Relief Fund
Mercy International USA
AmeriCares
Disaster Relief from DisasterRelief.org
American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
World Relief
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc. Turkey Earthquake Relief

RELATED SITES:
Survivor message site (in Turkish)
Turkish Daily News Online
USGS National Earthquake Information Center
Global Earthquake Response Center
Newton's Apple: Earthquake Info
Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute
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