A Turkish professor sparked a furore in Turkey Monday by branding people who don’t pray as “animals”, on a state television program celebrating the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Let me put it straight, the verse of the Koran says… animals do not perform prayers and those who do not perform prayers are animals,” Mustafa Askar said during the show aired on the state-run TRT television over the weekend.

Askar said human beings are the only creatures whose foreheads incline to allow the prostration of prayer.

“Human beings were created to be prayer ergonomic,” said Askar, professor at Ankara University’s Faculty of Theology.

With controversy growing, Turkey’s religious affairs directorate, Diyanet, said it was “unacceptable” to insult people by targeting their freedom of faith.

Engin Altay, of the main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), called Askar a “lunatic.”

“I’ve read the Koran. There is neither a verse, nor a saying (by the prophet). I think this individual is a lunatic,” he was quoted by the Dogan news agency.

“The ones who are animals are actually those who let him appear on such an important broadcasting company like TRT.”

Source Agence France Presse