Tag Archives: AKP

Is There A Planned Military Coup In Turkey?

There is scant doubt the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party(AKP) is concerned about the attitudes of members of the Turkish military high command. The past few months have witnessed continual warnings and arrests of military personnel on charges they are planning a coup in order to overthrow the moderate Muslim government presently in power. Six retired Turkish military personnel together with 50 members of the armed forces were arrested and detained for questioning regarding the supposed military coup.

The former heads of the navy and air force were among those detained for questioning. The military has historically been in favor of maintaining the secular nature of the Turkish government. The AKP has pledged to support that principle, but there are members of that party which seek a more militant Muslim presence in government and society.

Is Turkish AKP Losing Political Support?

The Justice and Development Party(AKP) swept into power on a platform that a centrist moderate religious centered political organization could govern Turkey in a manner that made the economy boom while protecting individual rights. There is great concern in Turkey among business and liberal leaders that the AKP is no longer representing its views. There is growing fear corruption is spreading within AKP ranks and Prime Minister Erdogan is not as popular because he has not moved quickly enough to make individual right reform become a high priority. The entire basis for being able to enter the European Union rests on instituting political reforms that foster democracy and individual rights.

The AKP moved too quickly on the headscarf issue for women in universities and would have been wiser to wait until entry into the EU. Erodgan has not reassured the Kurdish minority that its rights will be respected and he has lost considerable support among the Alevis who want true religious freedom.

Turkish Political Parties Get Interested In Alevi Vote

The Muslim Alevi minority in Turkey historically has been ignored due to its liberal views on religion which make it more akin a westernized liberal religion than a fundamentalist Muslim one. However, there is now renewed interest in a group that is estimated to constitute anywhere between six to twelve million people. The ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) and the opposition Republican People’s Party(MHP) have suddenly realized securing the Alevi vote could be critical in gaining a parliamentary majority. The Alevi want an end to compulsory religious classes in public schools, the abolishment of the Religious Affairs Directorate and recognition of their right to be a lawful religion and entitled to all privileges that go along with that designation. The AKP has now announced religious classes will no longer be mandatory in schools.

Recognition of the Alevi minority will be an important step forward in accepting the right of Muslims to hold liberal ideas and not be controlled by religious laws. In recognizing the Alevi, there is also recognition for all liberal minded Muslims.

Turkish Prime Minister Scolded By Court

The Constitutional Court of Turkey scolded Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for undermining the nation’s secular principles although it stopped short of demanding his resignation. The court in July fined the Islamist -rooted Justice and Development Party(AKP) for fostering an anti-secular attitude in government. However, the Court ruled: “It was found that the head of the party(AKP)Recep Tayyip Erdogan, member of the party and former parliament speaker Bulent Arinc, Education Minister Huseyin Celik–were involved in determined and intense activities which were against Aricle 68 of the constitution.”

The Court decision focused on how Erdogan and other members of the AKP attempted to lift the ban on women being able to wear a headscarf in universities. It also mentioned statements made by Erdogan in which he said, “religion is the cement of Turkish society.” Erdogan argued he was simply trying to make clear there was freedom of speech in a religious society. The Court is sending a message to the AKP to be careful regarding which aspects of Turkish society they wish to change.

Muslim Brotherhood Seeks To Emulate Turkey AKP

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood(MB) which is feared and oppressed by the Mubarak government is trying to create an image akin to that of the Turkish Justice and Development Party(AKP) which currently governs its nation. Muhammad Habib, a key leader in the Brotherhood emphasized his party is concerned with social justice and conducts health services as well as aiding people to obtain jobs and education. “We do not extend help to the people for political reasons or considerations.” He argues his party wants a democratic Egypt just as the AKP works for democracy in Turkey. He was clear the Muslim Brotherhood had no connection with Muslim terrorist organizations and bluntly stated, “Al Qaeda does not represent Islam and their actions are not reconcilable with Islam.”

When asked why the MB does not denounce the use of suicide bombing in the Israel-Palestine conflict he replied, “sometimes there is no remedy left but suicide bombing in Palestine.” He also made clear the MB accepts the right of Israel to exist if it would retreat to the 1948 borders.

Among the tragedies of the current Israel-Palestine conflict is Muslim nations are now ready to accept the 1948 border. Had they displayed this attitude in 1948, the conflict never would have arisen. The other tragedy is failure on the part of Israel leaders to work with all Muslim groups in the quest for peace.

Turkey Confronts Issues In Kurdish Areas

The Justice and Development Party(AKP) of Turkey is examining issues related to how best the nation can work with Kurdish citizens in the southeast section of the country and is it necessary to utilize military operations against Kurdish rebels in those areas as well as in Iraq. Some argue the issues are best confronted through economic development, improve social rights of Kurds and work to place Kurds in positions of political leadership. Members of the armed forces are more inclined to resort to military action against rebels. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan recently chaired an important meeting with those involved in the anti-terror campaign. Parliament has granted the government authority to send Turkish armed forces across the border into Iraq to confront members of the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK).

A fly in the ointment for the AKP is the upcoming elections and their fear using violence against Kurds would seriously damage the ability of the party to obtain votes in the southeast region. There might even be greater benefit to legalizing the PKK and get them involved in a political process rather than a military one.

Secular Turkish Journalist Argues Against Closure of AKP

The establishment of a modern secular Turkey nearly a hundred years ago marked an important turning point in the history of Middle Eastern Islamic practices. The Turkish constitution made clear that no party which endeavored to establish religious doctrine as the basis of Turkish law was to be allowed to exist. Turkey’s Constitutional Court is presently hearing charges levied by the Public Prosecutor to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKK) on grounds it has violated the constitution by its pro-religious efforts. Yush Kanli, writing in the Turkish Daily News who regards himself as a believer in secularism expressed his opposition to the effort to close down the AKP. “Some have gone to the extent of accusing me of ‘betraying the secular democratic Republic.”

He writes with passion, “Self-catering democrats, self-catering secularists, self-caterng supporters of individual rights and liberties may not of course comprehend the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in front of justice, to oppose all anti-democratic moves without discrimination and e ven to be able to say, ‘if in principle I am against closure of political parties by a military junta or by by the Constitutional Court, I am against–in principles- the closure of the AKP as well through like many people I have very strong doubts that the ruling party has an agenda incompatible with the secular democratic Republic.”

Kanli raises the important issue of respecting the right of free speech of those you believe may well seek to destroy free speech. He believes the AKP is aware of past history in which other Islamist parties were closed down and will be careful to avoid angering secularist institutions such as the Army and the Constitutional Court. We hope he is correct and agree with his views on democracy for all viewpoints.

Turkish Court Urged Not To Ban AKP

The rapporteur for the Constitutional Court of Turkey is recommending against any issuance of a decision which would ban political activities of the Justice and Development Party(AKP). Rapporteur, Osman Can, argued that charges of anti-secular activity fall under freedom of expression and cannot be grounds for closure. He reminded the Turkish high court that in Western democracies only committing acts of violence can be considered the basis for closing down a political party.

He also pointed out to Constitutional Court Justices that according to the Venice Commission criteria which are guidelines in Europe for banning a political party, the AKP had a Parliament constitutional amendment passed which lifted the ban on wearing a headscarf in universities and that amendment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, the Constitutional Court has already dealt with the issue.

The rapporteur argued in light of the above the Court can not ban top officials of the AKP from participating in political life or running for political office. A decision is expected by
August.

Hopefully, the AKP can remain a vibrant political party and learn from this episode the importance of consulting more closely with the opposition and working with them to resolve delicate issues in a spirit of collegiality.

Turkish Court Urged Not To Ban AKP

The rapporteur for the Constitutional Court of Turkey is recommending against any issuance of a decision which would ban political activities of the Justice and Development Party(AKP). Rapporteur, Osman Can, argued that charges of anti-secular activity fall under freedom of expression and cannot be grounds for closure. He reminded the Turkish high court that in Western democracies only committing acts of violence can be considered the basis for closing down a political party.

He also pointed out to Constitutional Court Justices that according to the Venice Commission criteria which are guidelines in Europe for banning a political party, the AKP had a Parliament constitutional amendment passed which lifted the ban on wearing a headscarf in universities and that amendment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, the Constitutional Court has already dealt with the issue.

The rapporteur argued in light of the above the Court can not ban top officials of the AKP from participating in political life or running for political office. A decision is expected by
August.

Hopefully, the AKP can remain a vibrant political party and learn from this episode the importance of consulting more closely with the opposition and working with them to resolve delicate issues in a spirit of collegiality.

Turkish Government Awaits Constitution Court Decision

The Turkish government is experiencing turmoil and conflict as it awaits news from the Constitutional Court as to its decision of banning or not banning the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) as a legal political organization. The Court is reviewing a case brought by the Public Prosecutor who charges the AKP with seeking to undermine the Turkish constitution by working to end its secular base and institute a Muslim centered society which will govern on the basis of sharia law. In recent days, ultra nationalist leaders have urged Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, to stand down from politics if his party is banned in order to avoid further conflict in society. In parliamentary debate, Erdogan disregarded the request, and stated bluntly, “if a politician decides to stand down from politics, it will be due to the will of the people,” not because of a judicial decision.

Deniz Baykal, of the opposition Republican People’s Party, argued Turkey is fast approaching a decision if the Constitutional Court decides to ban the AKP. “Will Turkey remain a modern nation or become a weird Islamic state of the Middle East?”

However, there is a third option which Erdogan and many members of the AKP are urging– creation of a modern nation which respects the rights of its religious members while also respecting the rights of those who believe in secular principles. If this third path is taken, it offers a model for the entire Middle East.