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Turkish Press Review, 08-10-23

Turkish Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>

Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning

23.10.2008

  • [00] CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RELEASES FULL DECISION ON HEADSCARF BAN RULING The Constitutional Court yesterday released its full ruling, including its legal reasoning, on a June case upholding the headscarf ban at universities. In the 20-page decision, the court underlined that the rules concerning headscarves have political and religious purposes and that changing them would exacerbate public polarization. Relaxing the ban for religious reasons might lead to pressure on believers or non-believers, or those who wear the scarves and those who don't, if the headscarves are used as a political symbol, it warned. "Some people might feel obliged to wear a headscarf, which violates freedom of conscience," it added. "In a state regime where the nation has sovereignty, there can be no room for divine will based on divine orders." The opinion continued, "In modern systems of law, sovereignty is based on human beings. Legislative changes concern worldly matters, not religious affairs. Laws cannot be based on religious foundations … Freedoms that are not in line with secularism cannot be defended and protected. Laws meant to protect secularism cannot be ignored. The headscarf is incompatible with the secular structure of knowledge." The statement also said the court had decided the case on the basis of substance, not as a procedural matter. When a law is contrary the fundamental principles of the republic, the court has the power to hear challenges to such laws only on the basis of substance, it said. /All papers/

    CONTENTS

  • [00]
  • [01] AKP: "THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERSTEPPED ITS AUTHORITY"
  • [02] CHIEF JUSTICE KILIC: "WITH THE HEADSCARF RULING, THE COURT USURPED PARLIAMENT'S AUTHORITY"
  • [03] POLITICIANS REACT TO RELEASE OF HEADSCARF RULING
  • [04] ERGENEKON TRIAL TO RESUME TODAY
  • [05] JUSTICE MINISTER: "WE COULD BUILD A BIGGER VENUE FOR THE ERGENEKON TRIAL"
  • [06] NEW INTERIOR MINISTRY UNIT SET TO FIGHT PKK TERRORISM
  • [07] BABACAN MEETS WITH IRAQI OFFICIAL IN ANKARA
  • [08] BAYKAL: "SECULARISM PROVIDES DEMOCRACY IN TURKEY"
  • [09] DEMOCRACY, THE PKK, AND THE DTP
  • [10] END

  • [01] AKP: "THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVERSTEPPED ITS AUTHORITY"

    The Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Central Executive Board, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yesterday met just after the Constitutional Court released its full decision on a ruling upholding the university headscarf ban. During the four-and-a-half-hour meeting, the board came to a consensus that the court had overstepped its authority. Also discussed at the meeting were issues such as how to respond to recent terrorist attacks as well the local elections set for next March. /Milliyet/

    [02] CHIEF JUSTICE KILIC: "WITH THE HEADSCARF RULING, THE COURT USURPED PARLIAMENT'S AUTHORITY"

    Two Constitutional Court justices yesterday laid out their dissent to the court's June ruling upholding the headscarf ban at universities. In their dissent, Chief Justice Hasim Kilic and Judge Sacit Adali stressed that under the Constitution, the court can review constitutional amendments only in terms of their form, not their content, adding that the decision had overstepped the court's authority and usurped Parliament's authority. "When the court conducts constitutional review by going beyond constitutional restrictions on its authority, then it is no different from other institutions under its supervision," they wrote. "The interpretation that the amendment (to lift the headscarf ban) violates the Constitution's principle of secularism is a forced one. After this decision, which could set a precedent, Parliament will never even propose or even think of proposing or drafting constitutional amendments, fearing that the court might differ in its interpretation." The dissent also claimed that the decision violated students' right to education on the basis of an illusory threat of Islamic fundamentalism. /Turkiye/

    [03] POLITICIANS REACT TO RELEASE OF HEADSCARF RULING

    Commenting on the Constitutional Court's just-released full decision on upholding the headscarf ban at universities, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin yesterday said that the ruling had rendered Parliament powerless. Stressing that Parliament should discuss whether the court had usurped Parliament's authority with the June decision, he said, "The legislature has been put into a position where it cannot independently make constitutional changes." Sahin also said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has no plans to try to change the Constitution's unalterable articles on the basic principles of the republic, adding, "To the contrary, we care about how we can strengthen the fundamental principles of the republic, and how we can develop the people's genuine commitment to the regime." Bekir Bozdag, the head of the AKP parliamentary group said, "With this decision, Parliament's power to amend the Constitution and draft a new cone will be subject to the approval of the Constitutional Court. The ruling interferes with the legislature." Mehmet Sandir, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose party supported lifting the ban, said that the full decision had wounded the nation's conscience. "We respect the decision and are against the headscarf being used as a political instrument," he added. "But saying that the headscarf is a threat to the fundamental values of our republic is an exaggeration." Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) parliamentary group chairman Hakkı Süha Okay said, "In a democratic country, the legislature doesn't have the right to do anything it wants. It can't do whatever it wants without boundaries." He added that the ruling had affirmed the CHP's initial objections to the amendment lifting the ban. /Star/

    [04] ERGENEKON TRIAL TO RESUME TODAY

    The Ergenekon trial is set to continue today in Silivri, Istanbul. Following problems at Monday's first hearing due to overcrowding, the panel of judges decided to limit the number of lawyers present in the courtroom to a maximum of three per defendant. In addition, only one news agency reporter will be allowed in the courtroom at one time. A larger courtroom is being prepared for future hearings. /Sabah/

    [05] JUSTICE MINISTER: "WE COULD BUILD A BIGGER VENUE FOR THE ERGENEKON TRIAL"

    A new venue could be built to relieve overcrowding at the Ergenekon trial, said Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin yesterday. "Under normal conditions, this case would be heard in the largest hearing room in Istanbul's Besiktas district," he told reporters about the trial, which began in Silivri on Monday. "But this room can accommodate only 100 people. So the panel of judges asked us whether they could use the hearing room in Silivri, and we said this was possible." Saying that there is no bigger venue in Istanbul, Sahin said a gymnasium could be specially built in around two months to hold the trial. /Milliyet/

    [06] NEW INTERIOR MINISTRY UNIT SET TO FIGHT PKK TERRORISM

    A new civilian-oriented unit to help fight terrorism will be established under the Interior Ministry, in the wake of a meeting of the country's top security board. It will handle all aspects of terrorism " security, economic, social, and psychological " as well as do research and analysis into dissuading people from joining the terrorist PKK, and facilitate inter- departmental coordination. Speaking to reporters before leaving for a meeting in Jordan of countries neighboring Iraq, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said that he would give more details of the new unit after returning to Turkey. /Hurriyet/

    [07] BABACAN MEETS WITH IRAQI OFFICIAL IN ANKARA

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with Ammar al-Hakim, deputy chairman of Iraq's Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Stressing the importance of the fight against the terrorist PKK, Babacan urged the Iraqi side to do more towards this end. Babacan reportedly suggested that all groups in Iraqi territory should stand together to govern the country in the best way. For his part, Hakim said that Iraq places great importance on relations with Turkey, adding, "We're aware of Turkey's contributions and support to Iraq." /Aksam/

    [08] BAYKAL: "SECULARISM PROVIDES DEMOCRACY IN TURKEY"

    Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday said that secularism lies at the foundation of Turkey's democracy and development. Speaking at a symposium at Isparta's Suleyman Demirel University, Baykal said that the republic realized by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his allies, which was meant to renew and change a society, was one of the world's most ambitious projects. Baykal added that secularism is the reason why Turkey's democracy and development is ahead of other Islamic countries. At the symposium, the university also gave an honorary doctorate to British historian Andrew Mango, who is famed for his books on Turkey and Ataturk. /Cumhuriyet/

    FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…

    [09] DEMOCRACY, THE PKK, AND THE DTP

    BY TURKER ALKAN (RADIKAL)

    Columnist Turker Alkan comments on the terrorist PKK, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), and the concept of terrorism. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "Why has the terrorist PKK become so overly aggressive? Some people think they're preparing for next March's local elections, but this doesn't seem likely. Firstly, the elections are still five months away. It's too early to start an election campaign. What's more, their 'campaign' consists of death and weapons. I'm also hearing other nonsense. Our Western friends and many of our intellectuals and politicians have long argued that a separatist movement such as the PKK takes its strength from Turkey's antidemocratic structure. The 1980 coup and the experience of Diyarbakir prison have given fuel to the PKK movement, they say, adding that rapid democratization would reverse this. This seems reasonable, and I have argued along similar lines. But when I see what's going on now, I see everything going in the opposite direction. We see that elections, as democratic participation mechanisms, raise tension rather than decrease it. At least many people believe this.

    The (pro-Kurdish) Democratic Society Party (DTP) seems to be advocating fighting and separation, instead of peace and consensus. It can hardly be said that the democratization serves peace " at least for the current PKK- DTP issue. Let alone peace, the DTP's stance provokes the public. Addressing not only Kurds, but also other ethnic groups in Turkey, it said that they were assimilated, but we Kurds are resisting. So it's trying to extend that and sow new anxieties. Can you imagine what would happen if Turkey's Lazes, Albanians, Bosnians, Chechens, Arabs, and so on formed gangs and went to the mountains? But no such thing would ever happen. There's a common identity uniting all of these ethnic groups. This common identity (or upper identity) is a unifying element and doesn't prevent having a secondary identity. You can be an African-American or have Irish origins, or a Turk or Laz or have Kurdish origins. And all levels of the state in the Turkish Republic are open to citizens of Kurdish origins. In past years they have been elected prime minister and president and they will continue to do so. In saying this I don't mean that in the past the Kurds' cultural identity was acknowledged or that they didn't suffer any problems. Of course, these problems should be solved through positive discrimination. But taking a gun and going to the mountains or bombing cities and terrorizing people solves nothing. These are all outdated methods.

    There might be other reasons for the recent rise in PKK attacks. They were hit by Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) attacks and so now might be trying to shake off the effect of this. If 30% of PKK members in the mountains are of Syrian origin, as one recent analysis said, this may mean that the PKK is having problems finding new recruits to go to the mountains. Many young people might think that they can have an adventurous life by taking up a gun and going to the mountains. But spending a week with snakes and mosquitoes would cause many to change their minds, and especially if this terror group has accomplished nothing. The PKK has been in the mountains for more than 20 years, and may be the oldest organization in the mountains. Some of its militants must have gotten tired of this."

    [10] END


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