A staff member of the biology department at
The trial against Dr. Osman Nuri BenlioÄŸlu and his wife Hatice KÃ¼bra BenlioÄŸlu started this week at the
The 13 plaintiffs in the case against the couple testified in written statements given to the court that they claimed to be “saints” and that “I was sent on this duty by God.” The documents also stated that both husband and wife would be held completely accountable.
Hatice KÃ¼bra BenlioÄŸlu called the rooms where these prayer meetings where held a “dergah,” or dervish lodge. She offered participants “chanted-over” snacks, which she claimed would heal and provide tranquility to those who consumed them.
According to C.Ã‡., a male plaintiff, “in the spiritual world of Hatice’s mind, she would perform a marriage ceremony through chanting. Despite her husband knowing about it, she shared a room with me.”
Female plaintiff K.T. that the self-purported saint wanted to be bound to her female followers’ husbands, and that it was the will of God that the women divorce them in the process. For this reason, according to K.T., many women in this group ended their marriages.
To recoup charitable funds from the followers, the plaintiffs alleged that the couple persuaded some group members to sell their homes and their cars. One plaintiff claimed that “those who would not comply were scared by threats of burning in hell.”Â Â
The couple has claimed “not guilty” on these charges. The
Speaking hesitantly while leaving the initial hearing, Hatice told reporters, “[The plaintiffs] are slandering me. I haven’t spoken with them for three years. I love Allah’s prophets and saints.” She refused to be photographed by members of the press.