ANKARA - The Islamic-rooted government of Turkey will give civil servants time off work to attend the weekly Juma prayers in mosques, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday.

“We are working on a regulation that will allow the Friday lunch breaks to be used in a way that will not hinder the freedom of worship,” Davutoglu told lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “After that, every Friday will be a (religious) celebration” he said.

Friday mosque prayers are obligatory for devout Muslim males.

But unlike several other mainly Muslim countries in the Middle East, officially Turkey uses the standard Monday-Friday working week employed in the West.

In power since 2002, the AKP of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accused by critics of imposing a creeping Islamisation on the country and eroding the secular values laid by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Over the past two years, the government has lifted bans on women and girls wearing headscarves in schools and civil service, moves denounced by opponents as undermining the basis of Turkey’s secular state. It also limited alcohol sales and made efforts to ban mixed-sex dorms at state universities.

The past decade has seen a substantial increase in the number of mosques built in Turkey. According to a report issued by Turkey’s top religious body Diyanet last year, the number of mosques in Turkey rose by estimated 11 between 2004 and 2014.

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, came under fire last year for building a huge mosque inside his controversial presidential palace in the outskirts of Ankara.