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Theologist Nihat Hatipoğlu on his live TV program at İstanbul Sultanahmet Square converted the religion of a 13-year-old Armenian refugee boy through a religious conversion ritual from Christianity to Islam on May 12.
Hatipoğlu said that the permission was given by the child's mother. However, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan has said that he talked to the family and the family told him that they have not given a permission for the conversion. Paylan has stated that he will file criminal complaint.
Paylan, whom we called to learn the details of the phone call with the family and of the criminal complaint, has stated that the family got contact with him:
"The child's mother was very unhappy, they were very sorry as the family, because they are face to face with a child abuse towards their child. The mother has not been informed about this incident.
"One of the assistants of Nihap Hatioğlu has called the mother; yet, she could not respond to the phone call as she was in the market at that moment. Her Turkish is already not very good.
"She has learned that her child was a guest in the program. However, she stated that it was outside of her knowledge that her child would be on television, such an incident would happen and he would be converted to Islam. The gravity of the situation is that it cannot happen despite the parent's information. This is an incident of child abuse. It was obviously outside of the parent's knowledge.
"We have an open wound for hundred years. During the genocide, many relatives of mine got lost, disappeared and died on the migratory routs. Some of them went to the Muslim families.
"Now, wherever I go in that region, everybody says, 'My grandfather is Armenian, my grandmother is Armenian'. Every family there has at least one Islamicized Armenian or some villages were forcefully converted to Islam.
"It surely means the making an open wound bleed again because in Anatolia, a very high number of people have been Islamicized forcefully.
"This child was faced with an attempt of forced Islamicization. An individual can choose his/her belief with a free will after the age of 18.
"A child can have a belief, too. She/he is baptized early in the Christianity, the religious education is given in early ages in Islam, yet the religious conversion of a child should be through a free will.
"I will file a criminal complaint today (May 15) because this TV program has obviously violated the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. I will also lodge a complaint about this program to the Radio Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and a complaint against Nihap Hatioğlu to the prosecutor's office.
"I will also get in touch with the Minister of Family and Social Services Ministry and talk about the precautions to be taken to protect our children in any time. I will make a demand for the increase of precautions about Arthur and the refugee/immigrant children living in this country like Arthur, and I will ask the Minister to look after Arthur." (PT/TY/SD)