Tag Archives: AKP

Turkish Leader Causes Turmoil In Nation

The Turkish Constitutional Court is currently deliberating over charges brought by the Public Prosecutor who believes the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) intends to end the secular nature of the nation and institute a Muslim sharia law mentality. At this critical time in the history of his nation, Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, deputy leader of the AKP decides to give an interview to the New York Times in which he attacks the revolutionary goals of Ataturk, who created the modern Turkish nation as one founded on secular values. Naturally, M. Firat is backtracking and claiming he was misunderstood, but his words have allowed critics to claim the deputy leader was merely revealing to the world, the true nature of the Justice and Development Party to end secularism.

Perhaps, Mr.Firat was misunderstood, but it also reflects a weakness of the AKP which has failed to clearly articulate its goals in such a manner as to reassure secular leaders in Turkey there is no intention to impose religious law. Leaders of the opposition Republican People’s Party and the Democratic Left Party have used his words to challenge the stated goals of the AKP.

An unknown factor is the reaction of Turkish military leaders to these words.

Does Turkey Need A New Political Alignment?

The people of Turkey are gearing up for radical changes in their political structure if the Constitutional Court decides to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKP) on grounds it has violated the constitution by emphasizing changes such as allowing females to wear the headscarf in universities. The Constitutional Court and high ranking military leaders remain the bastion behind guarding secular rights in their country. If the AKP is termed an illegal political organization then the Turkish political configuration must be altered. There are rumors, Abdullah Sener, one of the five founders of the Justice and Development Party is considering the possibility of creating a new center-right political party which will cooperate with secular leaders in forging a new coalition which can bring together both secular and religious leaders.

Speaking from the outside of Turkey, one notes legitimate concerns on the part of both religious and secular minded Turks. Perhaps, a mistake made by the AKP in ending the headscarf ban was failing to make clear it only dealt with the headscarf and was not the initial step in the imposition of sharia law ideas upon the population. Fears are not always based on reality, but if fears persist they must be addressed.

Double Standard On Turkish Closure Cases

The Public Prosecutor case against the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) has drawn considerable attention not merely in Turkey, but throughout the world. It is expected the Turkish Constitutional Court will order a closure of the AKP on grounds it is attempting to subvert the nation’s constitution by fostering Muslim values and laws. However, there is scant attention to the efforts of Prime Minister Erdogan and the Public Prosecutor to close down the pro-Kurd Democratic Society Party(DTP). Millions of Turkish Kurds voted for the DTP, but their voices are unheard as the government attempts to forbid the existence of a political party they support. According to Professor Husseyin Hatemi: “People who voted for the DTP in last summer’s election wonder why the closure case filed against their party does not have such influence nationwide like the AKP closure case.”

A democratic society can not continue the process of closing down political parties because of their “thoughts” or even actions unless there is demonstrable evidence the party is violating existing laws. The DTP has 20 members of parliament but their voices will soon be silenced due to actions of a judiciary.

Turkey Poses Interesting Case Of Democracy To EU

The conflict raging within Turkey over issues pertaining to the rights of those with strong religious views and those who fear fundamentalist Muslims seek to impose their ideas on the entire population is raising rather complex problems for the European Union. On one hand, the EU wants nations to have governments based on separation of powers and the right of opposing political parties to be heard. On the other hand, the EU does not want religious values and ideas imposed on a population. These two opposing concepts are currently dividing Turkish society. A case brought to the Constitutional Court seeks to ban the ruling Justice and Development Party on grounds it has violated the Turkish constitution by seeking to impose religious practices in secular institutions. Issues in this case exemplify the quandary facing the EU. Which takes precedence– secular rights or the right of a political party to exist?

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan also has a dilemma. Does he attend the special session being held by the EU group PACE to discuss the issue? Does he abstain to avoid making comments by the government while a court case is pending? The opposition Republican People’s Party is furious at Babacan and wants him to remain silent. To add to the complexity of the current situation, many political leaders in Turkey are upset at attempts by the EU to influence internal Turkish issues.

There is no simple solution to these issues. In some manner, all Turkish political parties have to create a solution which protects the rights of secular groups while granting those with strong religious values a right to education.

Turkey Confronts Constitutional Crisis

Democratic nations invariably confront moments in their history when core principles of government emerge to separate political parties. The recent decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to declare illegal recent legislation passed by the Justice and Development Party(AKP) that would allow females to wear a headscarf in universities has ripped asunder normal political relations between opposing parties. The opposition People’s Republican Party(CHP) believes the religious oriented AKP seeks to transform their nation into one governed by sharia law and is now ready to destroy the power of courts to halt that goal from being achieved.

Prime MInister Erdogan of the AKP insists his party has a legitimate right to pass legislation and the courts have no power to interfere with parliamentary action. Deniz Baykal of the CHP argues there are fundamental principles embedded in any society which can not be altered and modern Turkey is founded on the principle of secularism. He believes the nation will experience a terrible conflict if Erdogan tries to push through legislation which ends the power of Turkey’s courts to interpret the Constitution.

Perhaps, it is time for all political parties to step back and find ways to meet basic needs of all members of society. The underlying fear of secular Turks is action by the AKP to push through religious policies which undermine secularism. How can those fears be pacified?

Headscarf War Continues Dividing Turkey

The aftermath of Turkey’s Constitutional Court decision which invalidated a parliament action in lifting the ban on women wearing a headscarf continues to bitterly divide the nation. Ahmet Iyimaya, of the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) which pushed through the end of the ban, proposed parliamentary action which would invalidate the Constitutional Court’s decision. He is proposing a constitutional amendment which allows Parliament to suspend decisions of the Constitutional Court. There has been no indication from AKP leaders of support for his proposal.

However, the opposition Republican People’s Party(CHP) vigorously opposed any such action which, in effect, ends the concept of an independent judiciary by making the Constitutional Court an ineffectual body.

This is a situation in which opposing sides each raise valid concerns. The right of women who wear a headscarf requires some process which would allow them to attend a university while still respecting the rights of secular women not to be intimidated for refusing to wear one. This is the crux of the entire debate. Secular Turkish women fear allowing wearing a headscarf at the university is the first step toward making it mandatory at secondary schools. They worry about peer pressure on young girls that will end up in all girls wearing a headscarf throughout the education system. Unless the concerns of both sides are respected this controversy will continue.

Turkey Arrest Professor Over May Day Incidents

Nongovernment organizations and political leaders have strongly criticized the Turkish government for its detention of Professor Gencay Gursov, chair of the Turkish Medical Association(TTB), who was allegedly arrested because doctors provided medical assistance to demonstrators in the May Day attack by police and army units against workers. His detention came two days after the TTB issued a criminal complaint against Istanbul police officers who used tear gas against workers who had taken shelter in the emergency services of the Sisli Etfai hoospital during May Day demonstrations.

Onder Okay, head of the Ankara Medical A ssociation stated bluntly: “We know the real cause of the detention. We, doctors, do not accept being detained and kept silent.” In most nations of Europe, workers marched peacefully on May Day, but in Turkey, the govenment used its power to smash this peaceful form of worker pride. It is apparent the Turkish government fears the power of workers and this will be an issue when it applies for membership in the European Union.

Does the Muslim oriented Justice and Development Party of Turkey fear the emergence of a more secular worker movement?

Council Of Europe Supports Turkish Government

The current Turkish government led by President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party(AKP) received support from the Council of Europe which regards the current court case aimed at closing down political parties to be ill advised. The key issue for the Council of Europe is the presence of any evidence the AKP is advocating violence or attempting to curtail the freedom of other political parties. No such evidence is apparent and the Council of Europe emphasized: “It is better to have political issues like these settled by ballots, and these issues discussed openly in Parliament and the media” rather than have a court decide which political party is legal or illegal.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe(PACE) urged Turkish courts to respect the rights of political parties and avoid closing them since such action impinged on the right of freedom of speech. The Turkish Constitutional Court is concerned about the emergence of a potential Islamic state which would suppress secular rights of its citizens. As of now, there is no evidence the AKP is moving in that direction and to assume it will move toward such ends risks undermining the basic right of free speech. One can be punished for what is done not what a judicial body believes may or may not be done.

Turkish Population Opposes Outlawing Political Party

The people of Turkey are uneasy regarding attempts by Chief Prosecutor Abudurrahman Yacinkaya to have the Constitutional Court outlaw the Justice and Development Party which represents the views of moderate Muslims. A recent poll conducted in Turkey reveals that 70% of Turks oppose any attempt to declare illegal a political party which is currently governing the nation. About one-fourth of Turks regard the AKP as a threat to the basic values and structures of their government. Almost 50% said they had lost confidence in the Constitutional Court because it decided to hear the case while 21% said the decision was based on legal grounds.

About 37% expessed dissent with the concept that a political party should be closed down while 22.8% said “speeches and actions that conflict with the law” were legitimate criteria in making the decision to declare a political party to be illegal.

The old adage about actions speaking louder than words holds true in politics. The AKP up to this point has adhered to Turkish law. Its action in attempting to make legal the right of a woman to wear a headscarf in university is a controversial one, but certainly not cause to close down a political party.

Turkish Prme Minster Urges Conciliation

Prme Minister Recp ERdogan reached out to his secular political opponents in an effort to reach some form of agreement which would satisfy their concerns over his religious minded Justice and Development Party’s(AKP) actions. There is great concern in Turkey over attempts by secular minded leaders to have the Constitutional Court declare the AKP as an unconstitutional political organization which seeks to over throw the secular foundation of the Turkish nation. Erdogan said, “We will never make our people pay a price for this. Turkey cannot be turned away from its democratic path.” He promised his party will do its best to respect the secular democratic nature of the nation.

Erdogan is caught between the law case seeking closure of his party and Turkey’s neeed to make constitutional changes in order to meet requirements of the European Union. The EU demands ending laws which make criminal any critical remarks made about the government. The AKP has to assure secular minded Turks there will not be any attempt to impose shariah law on the people of Turkey or force religion to become part of educational or government institutions.