A Turkish imam has said that playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork.
Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, also known as Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca, said chess players are ‘cursed’, and that “most people who played chess are liars,” Hurriyet Daily News reported.
“Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork,” Ünlü said. “People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada (declaration of Muslim faith) while they are dying,” he added.
The highly-influential imam asked his followers to “count your prayer beads instead of playing games like this.”
Referring to the imam’s comments as “unacceptable,” the Turkish Chess Federation (TSF) said it will take legal action against him.
“Legal proceedings have been launched into the baseless comments and evaluations that affect thousands of our players and families, at a time when we most need the unity, peace and the philosophy of chess,” the TSF wrote in a statement.
This is not the first time a Turkish imam has made a bizarre statement on religion. In May 2015, a Turkish televangelist sparked social media fury after he warned Muslim men that masturbation may “leave their hands pregnant” in the afterlife.
Last year, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia decreed that chess is forbidden in Islam, likening it with gambling and calling it a waste of time. Aziz also said it was “a cause for hatred and enmity between players.”
To substantiate his point, Aziz referred to a verse of the Holy Quran, which commands banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination.”