Turkey’s leading religious body has warned of the supposed dangers of the Jedi religion spreading among the country’s Christian minority. Jediism is a movement based on the fictional religion in the Star Wars films, and is widely regarded as a joke.
Marmara University Professor Bilal Yorulmaz wrote – un-ironically – in the latest edition of the Diyanet’s monthly magazine: “Jediism … is spreading today in Christian societies. Around 70,000 people in Australia and 390,000 people in England currently define themselves as Jedis.”
The leading Islamic scholar also criticised Turkish theatre and cinema for supposedly presenting religious people as the bad guys in films in an “ill-minded” way, and for giving Islamic names to unintelligent characters.
According the Temple of the Jedi Order website, Jediism followers are, “real people that live or lived their lives according to the principles of Jediism, the real Jedi religion or philosophy.”
Jediism gained notoriety (and plenty of laughs) in the west in 2001 when, thanks to an online campaign, millions of people listed their religion as “Jedi” in what became known as the Jedi census phenomenon.
The vast majority did so as a joke, either to poke fun at the government or as a secular protest against religion featuring in the census and public life generally. In the UK, 390,127 people, almost 0.8% of the population, put themselves down as Jedi.
The joke took off in Turkey four month ago, when around 5,000 students signed a petition calling for their university to build a Jedi temple.
The students were responding to 200,000 people who had signed a petition calling for a new mosque on campus, and mocking the increasingly aggressive Islamist agenda of president Erdoğan’s government, who is eroding the secular foundation of the nation.
It appears Yorulmaz didn’t get the joke.
This February, thousands of students and teachers in different cities protested against government plans to refocus education on Islam, and to raise a “pious generation.”