[Marxism] Turkish governing party narrowly escapes ban by top court

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 31 11:52:40 MDT 2008

In Turkey, Muslim belief requires women to wear head covering in deference
to God. At the same time, in law, they were required to doff their head
covering in deference to the state. The constant putting of hats on and off
in submission to one deity or the other must sometimes have had a
schizophrenic quality. This is what Turkey has come to call secularism. And
what others claim to consider freedom. 

Turkey has imitators, or is itself an imitator of Western models. In France,
for example, a Muslim woman has been denied French citizenship because she
wore a Muslim burqa, a heavy all-inclusive form of the veil. Just as worship
of God in the Afghan countryside requires women to wear this garment, the
iron laws of French culture require women who believe in wearing the burqa
to go (in their view) stark nekkid in the streets or you can't be a true
Frenchwoman. After all, the president of the state is married to a
supermodel. Dare any woman wear more? What disrespect of the norms!

This article describes how Turkish "democracy" barely missed banning the
elected governing party because of its Muslim characteristics, and gave it a
clear warning and cut its funding. The secular god is a cruel god, an angry
god, an Old Testament, Book of Revelation god. He (or Ms.) is not easily

Of course the end result of this could be the rejection of Muslim Turkey in
the EU for being neither "democratic" or "secular" enough, even though
democracy in Turkey requires, among many other things, a decidedly less
antireligious secularism in the state. Worship of the late Ataturk and the
state he is credited with has got to go.

Words almost fail me in describing how much this crap goes against the
anarchist, free-thinking grain in my communist, atheist outlook. These are
the people who consider Iran repressive (which it is, of course, although in
similar, if mirror-imaged, ways). Brings me back to the wisdom of Jimmy
Durante on censorship. "Don't put no constrictions on the people. Leave 'em
ta hell alone." 
Fred Feldman

Turkey ruling party escapes ban  
The head of the court said the ruling was a "serious warning" to the party

Turkey's highest court has announced that it will not close down the
governing Justice and Development party on charges of undermining the
country's secular system.

Six of the court's 11 judges voted in favour of closing down the party, just
one short of the seven required to impose a ban, Hasim Kilic, the head of
the constitutional court, said.

But the court, he stressed, was still sending the party, also known as the
AK party, a "serious warning" by cutting half of the treasury funds it was
entitled to this year.

"The decision was a warning, a serious warning," he said.

The AK party which was re-elected with 47 per cent of the vote last year,
had denied charges of violating the secular constitution.

The case first reached the court in March and final deliberations had begun
on Monday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, said the ruling had removed
the uncertainty that the country had been facing, but that Turkey had
suffered a serious loss of time and energy due to the case.

In his first remarks since the court's decision, Erdogan said his party
would continue to uphold the country's secular values.

"The Justice and Development party, which has never been a focal point of
anti-secular activities, will continue to defend the basic principles of the
republic," he said.

Public debate

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ankara, the Turkish capital,
said the case had triggered an intense debate in the country over the past
month, revealing a much deeper issue.

"It reflected a more profound problem within Turkish society... how to have
the overwhelming masses, who are religiously sensitive without being
fundamentalist - and without wanting to change the secular tenants of this
state - be able to co-habitate with the secular elite who are extremely
afraid that the AK Party will slowly try to Islamise society.

"That would be a process that would be irreversible," she said.

Fadi Hakura, a Turkish analyst with the London-based Royal Institute of
International Affairs, said that the government could face a crisis again if
it continued pursuing what he said was their previous agenda of more

"Even if the party was banned this time around, it would have been seen as
the last time that such an event could take place in Turkey. Turkey is
changing," Hakura said.

"It's becoming much more of a pluralistic society and so any kind of
military intervention is now more frowned upon by the public.

"Turkey is also now much more exposed to international financial markets, is
involved in the European Union accession process and in regional engagement
in the Middle East."

The EU had criticised the case, saying the kind of charges raised by the
prosecutor should have been debated in parliament and decided through the
ballot box, not in the courtroom.

Financial markets had rallied on optimism over the past week that the court
would decide not to ban the party.

The lira rose as much as two per cent against the dollar and shares gained
four per cent.

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