A state prosecutor has asked Turkey's highest court to shutdown the ruling AK Party for allegedly undermining secularism. Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, the court of appeals chief prosecutor, as quoted by Turkish television as saying he wanted senior party members, including the president and prime minister, banned from politics for five years.
Below are some excerpts from the indictment submitted by Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, to the Constitutional Court on March 14, 2008, demanding the Justice and Development Party (JDP) should be closed down on the grounds that the party has become a focal point for anti-secular activities.
The Case (from p.10 on)
"Democratic and secular state does not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of religious beliefs. Each person is free to choose his/her religion and to express his/her beliefs within the boundaries of the freedoms of religion and conscious."
"In a secular order, the state is impartial towards religions which does not mean that religious freedoms are unlimited. The state may make arrangements and introduce restrictions in this area for protecting rights and freedoms."
"Turkey's implementation of the principle of secularism is different than certain western countries."
"With the adoption of the principle of secularism, ..... people with different beliefs gained confidence by the fact that the state equally treated each one of them, enabling them to live together."
"Secularism, which is also the key to transition to democracy, is a philosophy of life in Turkey."
Anti-secular Actions and Statements of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the JDP and the Prime Minister (from p.27 on)
''Turkey, as a modern Muslim country, can be an example to the harmony of the civilizations."
"It would be wrong to bring together Islam and secularism as concepts. Because individuals cannot be secular. Some perceive secularism like a religion. If secularism is a religion, then a person cannot be a Muslim at the same time. Because a person cannot follow two religions at the same time. By definition, secularism is a system, and that the states and not the individuals can be secular. Belonging to a certain religion is an individual choice."
"There are Turks, Kurds, Lazes, Circassians, Georgians and Abkhazes and all others living in Turkey. There is an important religious bond that binds together all these ethnic elements we have. Because 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim."
[To the journalists:] "We have around 30 different ethnicities in Turkey. You write it often as well; religion is like cement in Turkey where 99% of the people are Muslims."
"I am not secular as an individual, but the state is. However I am responsible to protect the secular order. Yet the people of this country will be bothered if you present secularism as a religion to them. Turkey is going very well, the government is successful. Yet there are some who talk about secularism all the time, trying to reap some benefits through this discourse."
[On headscarf ban on the university students]: "I believe that [headscarf] is a reality of our country... There is a consensus in the society [on the freedom for head covering] but we cannot understand the dissonance between public institutions. Now that we have a societal consensus at place, we need to have also institutional consensus so that we do not turn into a society where people look upon each other suspiciously."
"Now those people [who are defending ban on headscarf of the university students] have this mentality: 'OK, you work on the fields with your headscarf, but never become a sociologist or a psychologist.' We have to leave this behind."
"I think the headscarf ban in universities is a mistake. A democratic country should provide religious freedom. This includes also that the citizens may represent their religions with some symbols with the condition that they shall be respectful to the laws. The headscarf ban is not liberal."
[On the headscarf ban in France]: "Banning is a method the French use. We, the Turks, prefer the Anglo-Saxon interpretation of secularism and we find it nonsense to prohibit certain things in the 21st century."
"My daughters could not study at Turkish universities because they cover their hair. We, as a family, are victims of this [ban]. We are against such discriminations. But the solution of this problem is not through the fact that we want it to be solved, but through participation and consensus of all political parties."
"This [headscarf ban] has been going on for 8 years now. Our girls who acquired the right to study at the Turkish universities cannot do with their hair covered. I think this is restricting freedoms of religion and conscious as well as education."
"Discriminating against women is a tradition of the pre-Islamic history. Such repressive and fanatic approaches that imprison the women in private sphere by isolating from the public sphere based on sexual discrimination cannot be called civilized."
"We are determined to remove all mistreatments by securing a consensus on freedoms. No one should doubt our intention."
"The man has a private sphere, a public sphere and a sphere belonging to the state. No one has the right to dominate these spheres. They are going to interfere with my home soon. They will say 'you have to behave this or that way.' I am sorry but Turkey is not an un-regulated, chaotic place. Everyone needs to know his/her limits. We do not want any tensions. We are patient so that no one would exploit [such tensions]. However those who are occupying the judiciary in the name of justice should not spend efforts to create those tensions themselves."
"Some people accuse [women covering their hair] by saying that they carry it as a political symbol. And they respond that 'no, we do not'. Just imagine even if they wear [the headscarf] as a political symbol. Can you accept wearing a political symbol as a crime? Can you prohibit symbols and signs? Where can you find such a prohibition in terms of freedoms in the world?"
Anti-secular Actions and Statements of Bulent Arinc, former Speaker of the Parliament (from p.54 on)
"There are two necessities in expanding freedoms, eliminating prohibitions and democratization: The first is that the parliament takes decisions in line with the Constitution, and the second, a national consensus. In making a new legal arrangement it is one thing to ask the opinion of the public agencies, and yet another to look for their consensus. In democracies, no country seeks consensus of public agencies for democracy... If the members of the parliament cannot secure a consensus, the only authority that would provide that consensus is the will of the people. You cannot be so untrusting to the country's regime. The Turkish regime is not that weak to be shaken and affected when you talk about an issue. No one has the intention of giving up the Republic, democracy and fundamental freedoms. Therefore we do not have a regime problem in Turkey, but a debate on who owns the regime... The state has been restricting the right to life and right to expression by some beliefs in public sphere instead of guaranteeing the citizens to live according to their beliefs. And it does so in the name of secularism which is a great inconsistency in terms of political science. This inconsistency has been disturbing the peace at home and creating a series of problems. It is this inconsistency stemming from differing interpretations which the intellectuals, politicians and academics need to solve."
"At the center of all debates are such issues as headscarf, secularism, Higher Education Council (HEC), high schools for imams, and the Koranic courses... Yet we believe that the real center of the debate is freedoms and who is going to determine the limits of freedoms. We defend the view that those limits can only be drawn by the parliament. This is a democratic requirement. Because the parliament is the place where the people are represented. Therefore the last word on Turkey's fate can be said by this parliament. Yet for some reasons, some institutions or persons do not want to admit this truth."
"Democracy is not a regime of the elites. It is not a regime of a certain minority. It is not a regime of the rich. Democracy is there for everyone: all the poor, the sufferer, the victims and people in the streets. Democracy exists for each individual without any discrimination. No one can prevent the use of this right."
Anti-secular Actions and Statements of Abdullah Gül, former Minister of Foreign Affairs (from p.65 on)
[On the headscarf ban]: "Of course, such are prohibitions are not included in the EU's human rights standards. All these will be removed when the day comes. I am indeed sure about that. Prohibitions that do not exist in Paris, London or Paris should not exist in Turkey as well. It is indeed so, because [headscarf] is a part of our culture. We see these issues as the ones that need to be solved in time, with prudence.
"As JDP, we see the issue of headscarf as part of the rights of free thought and expression. Whoever covers her hair and whoever not is free to do so. This is the gist of the issue for me."
"We are determined on the freedom of expression and belief: everyone should be permitted to live according to his beliefs. All individuals must feel safe away from fears and anxieties. They must freely express whatever they think and believe and live according to whatever they believe in. It is our mission to eliminate terror and torture and to strengthen freedoms of expression and beliefs. We will continue to be determined to realize all legal actions to this end."
"You cannot defend restrictions on the rights of the majority when you discuss the religious rights and freedoms for the minorities in Turkey. But these are our own problems. I believe that we will solve our own problems by ourselves. Of course this would require a course of time. No one should be proud of prohibitions. No one would be honored by defending and taking pride in prohibitions. We will settle this problem when an appropriate time comes by our own initiative... Our government is determined to eliminate all prohibitions."
"We are always in favor of positive freedoms... Turkey will be a society that is constantly becoming freer, democratized and widening the civil sphere. We are determined on that. As the society, as the parliament, as the government."
Anti-secular Actions and Statements of Huseyin Celik, Minister of Education (from p.70 on)
"The secular state is defined as the state where the religion is not permitted to interfere with the work of the government. These religions can be Christianity, atheism, Buddhism or any other. The Sikhs wear turbans as required by their beliefs. The laws may prohibit but [those girls covering their hair] said 'this is a requirement of our belief' and they did so. This is exactly what the prime minister is saying.... You have to accept it as such. You cannot prohibit this with judicial decisions. We are the owners of the Republic of Turkey, the democratic, secular, social state and the rule of law. We do not need to hear any warning by any person."
"It is a dram in its own right that our young girls are deprived of their education rights just because they cover their hair."
[On the declaration of the All-Universities Board comprising university presidents announcing that they would not comply with the constitutional amendment permitting female students wearing headscarves at the universities and calling upon the new president of the Higher Education Council to resign]: "The Law on Higher Education Council defines the duties of the All-Universities Board. There is no power of approving or abolishing laws. The Board cannot do politics. No one has the right in the name of a university president or the Board to stand against the will of the Turkish people. No one under the rule of law can say that 'I cannot permit [the women covering their hair] in my university' even after a constitutional amendment is made and as it enters into force and in the absence of anything that would restrict the freedoms. The universities are not personal properties of the presidents. Each person needs to be aware of his position regardless of his status under the rule of law."
Anti-secular Actions and Statements of Deputies of the JDP (from p.75 on)
Sadullah Ergin, Vice-Chairman of the JDP Group in the Parliament: "Universal human rights are not rights which exist because a certain public agency or court says so. These are innate rights in our existence as human beings. The doctrines and decisions are subject to change yet universal human rights will exist for ever."
''You believe it or not, headscarf is a reality in Turkey. Governments cannot be closed towards their own people. It cannot exist just because you say so, or ceases to exist because you say it so."
Cavit Torun, the MP of Diyarbakir: "It is true that even the majority, let alone the minorities in this country cannot enjoy freedoms of belief, thought and ideas. Counter-arguments to this cannot reverse this fact. There are still thousands of young girls cannot freely attend the schools, their sufferings and sorrow are at the limits of patience."
Mustafa Bumin, former president of the Constitutional Court stated that "permitting anyone covering her hair and neck for religious reasons is a type of imposing and forcing others. This act of covering persons and forcing them to do so is against the principle of secularism as it would lead to creating an environment in which the youth will clash, also creating ruptures among the people belonging even to the same religion."
Irfan Gunduz, the MP of Istanbul responded on this statement by Bumin: "No judiciary can embargo the future. The society has a consensus on this. Is the Constitutional Court a fatwa issuing authority on the headscarf issue?"
"Our prime minister goes accompanied with his wife [wearing a headscarf] to the White House, Versailles or Kremlin, and this poses no problem. Yet the same fact becomes a big problem when he visits Çankaya, the presidential mansion. Even her boarding on the president's aircraft becomes a problem. So, how can Turkey still persist on such a wrong doing in a shrinking world?"
Musa Uzunkaya, the MP of Samsun: "Latife Hanim, Ataturk's wife, attended the meetings at the Cankaya mansion with her hair covered. The wife of Ismet Inonu [the second president of the Republic] accompanied him in black chador during his visits abroad. Were they also reactionary?"
Guldal Aksit, former Minister of State: "Turkey has a problem of headscarf. It constitutes a hurdle before the education of our young girls."
Ersonmez Yarbay, the MP of Ankara: "Headscarf is a part of the individual freedom of beliefs."
Mehmet Elkatmis, the MP of Nevsehir: "The headscarf ban is against human rights. No one can defend it."
Nihat Ergun, Vice-chairman of the JDP: "Women who want to actively participate in the modern life in their religious identity and appearance are unjustly treated."
Bulent Gedikli, Vice-chairman of the JDP: "As JDP we have said that we are looking for a social consensus...It is clear that ban on headscarf is a violation of human rights. The fact that a girl covering her hair is deprived of university education is making us and the public sad."
Egemen Bagis, the MP of Istanbul: "I have sisters and friends who cannot attend the university [because of the headscarf]. I absolutely believe that this is a shame for human rights."
"Some female MPs with headscarves from the Nationalist Action Party used to come to the door of the parliament and took their headscarves off there. What is the use of living such a dual life? I find it extremely shameful in the name of humanity."
Prof. Dr. Yusuf Ziya Ozcan, the president of the HEC: "Prevention of the rights of education for certain students at the universities has become a chronic problem."
Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, the Vice-Chairman of JDP called public prosecutors to take necessary action in the face of university presidents who refused to comply with the constitutional amendment permitting women with headscarf to pursue education at universities.
MPs from JDP together with MPs from the Nationalist Action Party proposed a constitutional amendment on the 10th and 42nd articles in order to permit university education for women with headscarves.
The Ankara chapter of the JDP opened a tent for iftar (the break of the Ramadan fasting) decorated with the pictures of the JDP leader and several banners.
Evaluation of the Anti-secular Actions of the JDP by the Public Prosecutor (from p.113 on)
"So, there is a strong possibility that political Islam or the 'moderate Islam' model as some circles want to qualify it will turn Turkey into a country ruled by Shariah and it is also probable that Islamic terror will be used to this end."
"This mentality which takes democracy as an instrument to reach the ideal of Shariah hid [the JDP's] intentions behind the ideology of 'moderate Islam', produced by the centers of globalization after the 1990s for our country as the co-chairman of the Project of the Greater Middle East and other countries of the region as the political objective [of the ideology of 'moderate Islam'] and behind such concepts like human rights, democracy, freedoms of religion and conscious, and the right to education, none which is related to Shariah."
"The JDP has begun to gradually implement its objective of transforming the society into an Islamic one with the encouragement and impact of the votes it received in the general elections of 22 July 2007, first by preparing the draft of a new constitution and then aiming at the principle of secularism through putting the issue of headscarf on the agenda."
"The headscarf that is a symbol of religious fanaticism has been shown as an indispensable part of the freedom of belief and the party tried to present wearing headscarf as a right."
"Headscarf is a religious and political symbol supported by a liberating discourse by the Party in its march towards a counter-revolution in education, culture, economic and social life through its struggle against the Republican revolutions in general, and the principle of secularism, in particular."
"Elimination of the ban on headscarf at universities is a dangerous process which would lead to its gradual use in public sphere, forcing those who do not cover their hair, hence gradually creating a religious discrimination in all domains of life."
"The authorities of the concerned party surely know that the headscarf which has been transformed into a political symbol for opposing women's freedoms and the basic values of the Republic and presented as a fundamental right to the society is the most important key for the counter-revolution that would bring the entire society under a theocratic order by spreading to all spheres and then by bringing some other anti-secular demands as rights to the social agenda and through new 'consensus-building processes'."
"It is unquestionable that the legal change in the Law on Higher Education is against the Constitution. The constitutional amendment is contrary to the Constitution as well."
"... Those who are against the Republic and its philosophy of enlightenment has begun to look for a revenge against the Secular Republic with the manipulation of the unipolarism created by globalization and changes in international balances... Today the opponents of the Secular Republic have seized the opportunity for a counter-revolution which they never had before, by taking the international support behind them."
"The secular Republic is in danger as it has never been. Because the counter-revolutionaries are not marginals anymore, they are in power today."
"The party in question relied on political Islamists in appointing the bureaucrats with the power and ability created by the fact that it is in power."
"In around five and a half years of the JDP government, Turkey's image of a secular country in international circles has been eroded and the countries of the world and especially the EU countries perceived Turkey as a 'moderate Islamic republic'. This perception has been officially acknowledged by American authorities like Colin L. Powell, former US Secretary of State. Many American authorities defined our country as a 'moderate Islamic republic' ignoring the fact that Turkey is indeed a secular, democratic and social state governed by rule of law. They have showed this impudence in their discourse by the fact that prime minister Erdogan frequently refers to his co-chairmanship of the Greater Middle East Project which is an American project aiming at installing moderate Islamic regimes in the region."
Conclusion by the Public Prosecutor (from p.145 on):
"It is thus concluded that the JDP has:
revealed its intention to constitute the environment in which basic principles of the Republic of Turkey will be changed by the actions mentioned above and especially by their proposals for a constitutional amendment and changes on the Law on Higher Education [abolishing ban on headscarves at universities]
ignored the fact that religious symbols cannot be used in secular systems
been determined to transform the secular Republic into a new life system and a new state order and begun to divide the society into those who are religious and those who are not
been spending efforts to change gradually the secular judicial structure and to give it a new shape
opened to the discussion the future of the regime and the Republic."
"It is a fact that the JDP will use material power to change the secular order because it enjoys the government power today and this danger is not far. This is a fact when we consider that they will adopt Shariah by enabling the society to evolve towards an Islamic structure through what they call "consensus processes" by exploiting religion and the sacred values and through jihad aiming at transforming the state into Shariah."
"The JDP would use jihad as required by Shariah when and if it fails to achieve to establish the regime it aims. In other words, the use of jihad, i.e. violence is probable."
"The threat posed by the policies of the JDP is clear and present. Concrete steps have been taken that may harm the civilized peace and the democratic regime in the country."
"In this context, there is no other possibility than closing the party as the only sanction applicable and also required by the society in order to protect the society from this danger and to prevent [the JDP] from reaching its objective."