Turkish Courts Move Against Freedom Of Press

The ongoing conflict between Turkey’s secular minded judiciary and those supporting the rights of Muslim women took an ominous turn when a public prosecutor filed a lawsuit against a Turkish journalist for the Star on grounds he was inciting “people to hatred an enmity” because of his columns which argue Muslim females have the right to wear a headscarf while attending the university. The Constitutional Court is currently hearing a case raised against the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) on grounds it is fostering the Muslim religion by acts such as allowing women to wear the headscarf.

On June 5, 2008, nine of the 11 members of the Constitutional Court declared illegal Parliament’s decision to end the ban on wearing the headscarf. Mustafa Karaaliogu wrote a column denouncing the decision and arguing in favor of the headscarf. He now stands charged with crimes of “provoking people to commit a crime.”

Karaaliglu wrote the following on June 6: “By canceling legislation that is designed to remove a certain violation of rights and shame and ensure that young women can attend university, the Constitutional Court exceeded its jurisdiction and violated the very law that is its raison d’etre. It trampled not only on the law, but also on the headscarf, which is the heritage of a centuries-old faith.”

It does not matter if one agrees or disagrees with the journalist, his comments were valid expression of a viewpoint and in no way incited violence or fostered hate.