Tag Archives: Constitutional Court

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.

Turkish Prime Minister Voews To Defend Democrac

Prime Minister Recep attacked a decision by his nation’s top court to hear a case brought by the chief prosecutor which would declare the Justice and Development Party(AKP) to be an unconstitutional political organization because it threatens the existence of secular institutions in Turkey. “Attempts to weaken politics will not only hurt the nation but weaken the state as well,” he claimed. Erdogan emphasized Turkey is a stable democracy and the nation will not tolerate allowing the Constitutonal Court decide which political parties can stand for election.

Erdogan insisted actions by the court would not interfere with his government’s efforts to gain entry into the European Union nor to work toward ending the ban which forbids women to wear a headscarf while attending university. He also said that parliament would not be asked to change the constitution to forbid the court from rendering a decision. Many Turkish politicians claim the court has no right to even consider a ban on President Gul since once assumng that office he no longer is engaged in the political process.

Turkey is a stable democracy in which those of secular feelings enjoy all rights as guaranteed under the constitution. To argue that at some future date these rights will be abrogated violates all principles of democracy. The record so far is that Erdogan and his party have abided by constitutional principles. They should only be evaluated on actions not on what might happen in the future.

Turkish Headscarf Debate Goes On

The controversy over being allowed to wear a headscarf in college began in the 1960s when Hatice Babacan was expelled from Ankara University because she insisted on wearing the veil. The controversy became mor intense in the 1980s when political Islam began to become more prominent in Turkish political life. Several center-right governments like that of Turgut Ozal, tried to allow legalize wearing of the headscarf in universities only to be over-ruled by the Constitutional Court which regarded itself as a bastion protecting secular rights. To date, the ban on headscarfs in universities is not based on a piece of legislation, but on a Constitutional Court decision. Secularists have made the headscarf an issue that is central to their beliefs that Turkey must remain a secular nation and not allow religious authorities to determine the daily lives of citizens. In 1998, the military drove out Prime Minister Necmeddin Erbakan because of his supposed Islamic views. Since then, the Higher education Board (YOK) has been a watchdog protecting secularism within universities.

As of this point, the Islamic Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul has carefully adhered to a strict policy of respecting secular rights. As secularists gain confidence their human rights will not be abridged, it might be possible to loosen somewhat the ban on headscarfs.