Cult members demonstrate in support of father involved in pedophilia case

Cult members demonstrate in support of father involved in pedophilia case
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A father, a senior preacher for Ismailaga cult, is accused of arranging for the systematic sexual abuse of his daughter by a cult member since she was six years old.

A Turkish court on Monday decided in the first hearing session of a case of organized pedophilia not to allow interveners to join in the lawsuit, +Gercek's Yagmur Kaya reported.

The panel granted the prosecution's request for closed hearings and for the dismissal of applications by bar associations and NGOs to take part in the lawsuit as interveners, Kaya said.

Yusuf Ziya Gumusel, a father who allegedly allowed a young man to have an intimate relationship with her daughter since she was six years old under the auspices of some highly controversial religious interpretations, and who married her off when she was a teenager, the man named Kadir Istekli, and the mother Fatma Gumusel face accusations of "sexual abuse against a child" in the lawsuit.

The prosecution asks for a minimum prison term of 30 years for Istekli, 18 years for both the father and the mother.

It was exposed in early December 2022 through disclosure of an indictment, a statement of the victim to the prosecution and evidential voice recordings that the victim H.K.G. was placed by her father, a senior preacher for a religious cult, in the hands of a cult member as early as she was six years old, and that she was subjected to sexual abuse, and eventually to rape, in the course of her enforced relationship that first took the form of a religious marriage, than a civil one.

A group of men from the religious cult of Ismailaga demonstrated in front of the court house on Monday to call for Yusuf Ziya Gumusel's release. They carried a banner reading, "Our khoja is pure, we bear witness," recited prayers, and chanted takbir - the Arabic expression for "God is the greatest."

Not only the representatives of the Ismailaga cult but also officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) argue that the case is an isolated one and that it is exploited by some to stage an attack on Islam.

An official of AKP's women's wing, Lutfiye Selva Cam, was allowed to address the court during the hearing session. She told the court that "remarks against Islam" are being made in the context of the lawsuit.

Filiz Kerestecioglu, a deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and a member of the Commission on Child Abuse in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, was also present in the court room as observer. She told the judges:

"We are here because the state has tolerated religious cults and communities. It should be investigated what happened to other children in the [cult's] foundation. This lawsuit should give confidence to all those children."