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Turkey's top religious official dismissed
Istanbul, Turkey - The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate has been abruptly dismissed, local media reported Thursday.
Ali Bardakoglu ran the body for seven years. He will be replaced by his deputy, Mehmet Gormez.
"Radical changes are about to happen in the directorate's structure. Bardakoglu was replaced in the scope of these changes," State Minister for Religion Faruk Celik was quoted as saying by the daily Milliyet.
Although secular, Turkey is deeply involved in religious life, with the directorate - known as Diyanet - responsible for managing some 78,000 mosques and a bureaucracy that is exceeded only by the military and the education system in terms of size and budget.
The Diyanet plays perhaps the most important role in shaping Turkish religious life.
In recent years, it has introduced various innovations, such as female preachers and deputy imams and a project to update the Hadith - a collection of the words and deeds of the prophet Mohammed.
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