A Turkish Muslim religious leader has been extending a helping hand to drug addicts, the homeless and the needy for 15 years in Istanbul.
Emin Kır, who was appointed the imam of the Kaab Mosque in 2006 in the Balat neighborhood of Turkey's largest metropolitan city of Istanbul, is striving to help drug addicts break their bad habits and addictions.
After being faced with some incidents in the neighborhood around the mosque soon after his assignment, Kır decided to develop empathy with junkies to help them combat their bad habits.
He started addressing drug users' needs on the condition that they not bring drugs to the mosque, reconciling resentful people and also providing soup three times a day, shelter, showers and clothes to the homeless.
After he assumed his duties at the mosque, he worried about people using drugs and consuming alcohol around the place of worship, Kır told Anadolu Agency.
Later, he took aside one of the drug users and convinced him to work with him in helping people in need on condition that he quit using drugs, Kır said.
"He accepted my offer and we were together until 2018. Then I sent him to his hometown and he found a job there."
He listens to people without prejudice and greets everyone with a smile, Kır said, adding those who come to the mosque feel more comfortable and share their past experiences without hesitation.
"There were drug-addicted children here. They were using drugs until the evening. There were all kinds of people drinking alcohol. We experienced these troubles. I knew that I had to create a connection with them, and I did, and they started to love me," he said.
The Eyüpsultan District governorship and Mufti's Office also started supporting their work in 2019, while many philanthropists also donated food and other items.
Thirty-year-old Murat Acar, who was previously a drug addict, said that after being released from prison, he left his family and started living on the streets.
"Three years have passed since I met Kır, and I did not take drugs after that, so my relationship with my family improved," Acar said.
He began helping his old friends after setting his own life on the right track.
Gökhan Vardar, another homeless person, said his shoes disappeared while he was sleeping on the streets and he saw the mosque while walking by with his feet covered with plastic bags.
His life completely changed after he entered the mosque.