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May 24, 2003

Hearing-Impaired Listen to Friday Sermon in Sign Language

From: Zaman, Turkey - May 24, 2003

Istanbul, TURKEY, May 24, 2003 -Yesterday was a historic day for the Kilic Ali Pasa mosque in Tophane, Istanbul. For the first time in their lives, 20 hearing-impaired members of the congregation understood every word of the Imam's Friday sermon, which was translated into sign language. Before addressing the congregation, Imam Halil Neciboglu welcomed and thanked the 'very special guests'.

While the Imam was giving the sermon, about the Conquest of Istanbul, the 2nd Chairman of the Hearing Impediment Federation, Ercument Tanriverdi, did the translating. Verses from the Holy Koran had not been translated into sign language before. Ismail Tukenmez, who has been attending Friday praying for years, for the first time, had some idea about what was being said.

Speaking through Tanriverdi, he said he would never forget that day and requested that the practice continue from now on.

Tanriverdi said that he summarized what the Imam had said and translated it into sign language. He added: "I found it difficult to translate Arabic terms. However, the atmosphere was very communicative, even though it was the first time."

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