Main oppsition leader Deniz Baykal urged Prime Minister Erdogan to admit his party’s mistke in attempting to impose Islamic law on the secular nation of Turkey. He insisted the move to have Turkey’s hgh court close down the Justice and Development Party on grounds it violates the nation’s law by seeking to end the secular nature of Turkey would be avoided if the AKP admitted it was wrong to move in this direction and promise not to impose Shariah law on the people of Turkey. Baykal said: “Tensions were ignited by the AKP under Erdogan’s leadership. We need to overcome this problem. We need a fresh start.” The current crisis arose when chief prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya asked the Constitutional Court to close down the AkP and ban its leaders from engaging in politics for five years.
Many members of the oppostion are still angry that Abduallah Gul was elected president of Turkey since he was one of the founders of the Muslim oriented AKP. They believe the presence of a known supporter of Islam as leader of their nation was a provocative action which was bound to divide the country into pro Islamic forces and those fighting for maintaining the secular nature of the nation.
The reality is that the only action taken by the AKP was to lift the ban on the wearing of headscarf that was imposed on Muslim women attending universities. Perhaps, it is time for President Gul to be more forceful by ensuring secularists of his desire to maintain secular institutions.
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.
Turkish Cheif of Staff General Yasar Buyukant told members of the War Academies Command that the armed forces are guardians of secularism in Turkey and will defend it against any attempt to make changes leading to Islamization of the nation. Prime Minister Erdogan assured the military his government is committed to those principles. “The government and Parliament are safeguards of the secular and democratic republic.”
Prime Minister Erdogan most probably is sincere in his desire to maintain secularism in Turkey, but he does not help to achieve those goals by having a new constitution drafted behind closed doors without any consultation by members of parties opposing his Justice and Development Party. His party only obtained 47% of the popular vote and it would be helpful if it reached out to secular political parties to obtain their assistance in drafting a new constitution. His words say one thing, but his behavior says something else.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Military, Politics, Turkey, World News
Tagged Buyukant, Constitution, Erdogan, Military, PKK, secularism, Turkey