Monday, May 05, 2008

The Constitutional Crisis in Turkey

Henrik Raeder Clausen is familiar to regular readers as the English-language editor of Europe News and also as a frequent commenter here at Gates of Vienna.

Last night he guest-posted at Dhimmi Watch about the current constitutional crisis in Turkey. The document referred to in the excerpt below is the lawsuit filed in Constitutional Court by the Chief Prosecutor filed suit demanding the closure of the incumbent AKP party, which is also a bastion of Islamism in Turkey:

Finally, the prosecutor in eight pages sums up the reasons that this case is justified under Turkish law as well as under the ECHR. A couple of highlights:

The prosecutor reiterated his view to the effect that political Islam does not remain limited between the individual and the God but aims to contain the state and social system and that it is totalitarian.

… the main purpose [of AKP policies] is to create unlimited sphere of freedom for political islam under the disguise of freedom of religion and conscience.

Here, as elsewhere in the document, we touch upon something important, yet tricky. Erdogan and the other AKP officials consistently argue for the use of the headscarf and other religious customs under the label of ‘freedom’. Yet, this ‘freedom’ opens the door to unlimited intimidation from religious fanatics. Using only pure, abstract logic, it might seem that removing the ban on the headscarf and other religious customs would create more freedom. Yet, secular Turks are well aware of the purpose of the restrictions of religion in public life, which is why they join the large demonstrations in defense of secularism.
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As Michael Rubin states on MEF (

The legal case against the AKP is an affirmation of democracy rather than an assault upon it. Democracy rests upon the rule of law and constitutionalism. Neither plurality support nor a majority in parliament should place any politician or party above the law.

A lot of people aren’t paying close attention to what’s happening in Turkey right now, but Henrik is.

Go over to Dhimmi Watch and read the rest.


Homophobic Horse said...

Liberalism is self defeating.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We can see how if allowed to run unchecked, it results in all kinds of illiberal practices such as polygamy. Lord give us the strength to resist it.

. said...

Unfortunately, Gates of Vienna and its many often intelligent commentators are succumbing to what I call "ACLU Disease." The Baron and Dymphna, as true blue American conservatives, are undoubtedly well-aware of this affliction.

It involves making the most absurd arguments about trivial issues based upon the "slippery slope" argument, which goes something like this: "If we don't let (or stop - [insert factual situation here]- we are on the slippery slope to the institution of [insert favorite bogeyman here].

As an example: "If we don't let the Nazis march in Skokie, we are on the slippery slope to complete government control over any rights of free speech and assembly."

As another example: "If we let the City of Pittsburgh put up a creche scene in City Hall, we are on the slippery slope to a fundamentalist theocracy in the U.S."

And here's another example: "If we let Turkish women wear the Hijab, we are on the slippery slope to the institution of Iranian-style theocracy in Turkey."

The proper response, of course, is "Let Turkish women, including the wife of the President, wear the Hijab in public if they choose to do so."

If the AKP proposes to institute stoning as the punishment for adultery, then maybe the would-be-Turkish Cassandras are right. But we'll know well before then what the AKP is up to. Right now, they are the primary force for LIBERALIZING a repressive and overly nationalistic Turkish polity, not further ruining it.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The proper response, of course, is "Let Turkish women, including the wife of the President, wear the Hijab in public if they choose to do so."

No, it isn't. Millions of demonstrators in Turkey, including a large share of women, disagree with you. Enough to take to the streets and demonstrate for the secular Republic of Turkey.

The problem is that permitting the headscarf in all of public life will open the floodgates of intimidation by men who use their women to show their submission to Islam.

The headscarf ban protects the freedom of women to wear non-religious clothing.

dt said...

Given that the Turkish population is around 99% Muslim (according to the CIA factbook) and they (the Turkish Government)deal with Islamic fundamentalist governments and organizations throughout the region, I'm not sure their (or anyone else's) opposition to the hijab should be so peremptorily dismissed.
True, the Turkish zeal for jihad (resulting in the slaughter of a million or so Armenians last century)has been repalced by a Turkish zeal for nationalism that
appears constricting to those in the west. But Islam as a
The push for the hijab is Islam flexing it's muscles.
Does the wearing of the hijab in Europe represent a mere personal choice or something far more sinister and dangerous?
To paraphrase Freud: Sometimes a hijab isn't just a hijab.

. said...

Henrik and dt: If you were a resident of New York or London, would you object to orthodox Jewish women wearing wigs and scarves, and orthodox Jewish men wearing hats?

I know I wouldn't. And I wouldn't object to Muslim women wearing the hijab either.

Intimidation is another matter - but no one's proved anything like that as of this time. It doesn't help the Turkish secularists' case that both Ms. Gul and Ms. Erdogan are apparently very forthright, assertive "modern" women, not submissive tools of their husbands.

Male oppression of women doesn't need the Hijab to accomplish its goal.

dt said...

Does the wearing of the hijab in Europe represent a mere personal choice or something far more sinister and dangerous?

Joanne said...

This should give credence to disallowing Muslim women in western countries to not be allowed to wear Muslim dress in public.

closed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
closed said...

The Turkish constitution bans the head-scarf for exactly the same reason the German constitution bans the Swastika.

Both, as past past bad experience has shown, lead in the same direction for their respective countries.

TonyGuitar said...

The civilized democratic world accepts public security cameras as a measure of safety and decency.

Business, banks and voting booth monitors require an open face and photo identification to do their jobs properly.

Turkey wants to step forward, [ advance], and should have the right to do so. = TG

. said...

tonyguitar: Banning the hijab in Turkey is not a "step forward." It's as much a step forward as if the U.S. banned the placing of the fish symbol on the trunk lid of American automobiles.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Former Gordon, permitting the headscarf is *not* a step forward. This is the issue here, as well as setting people from islamic high schools equal with those from secular high schools when applying for higher education, etc.

The Turks know what they're doing.

X said...

Gordon, do you know why Turkey banned the hijab? I'll tell you. They banned it because it was used, previously, as a political statement of the superiority of Islam and the absolute control islam had in the public and private spheres. They banned it because it represented a challenge to individual freedom, because it was a symbol of islamic power. Unliek that fish the hijab is far, far too loaded with political subtexts to be considered "a personal choice" because it isn't. It's a statement of the belief that Islam rules everything. It doesn't represent mere personal belief, it represents a voluntary subjugation to Islamic misogyny.

The turks see it as a challenge to their national self-determination. Now the turks aren't perfect by any measure of the word (in fact I'd probably say they're only a step up from the nazis in a lot of ways) but, and it's a big but, they are attempting to rpeserve their national identity in the face of a growing islamic threat to that idenitty, and an attempt to return Turkey to a state similar to that in which it existed prior to Kamal, when Islam reigned supreme and Islamic juris prudence dictated how people could behave. Turkey is a relatively free country right now. Freer than Franco's Spain. The hijab is banned, paradoxically, to preserve that freedom, because the hijab represents everything anathemic to that freedom.

That's their choice.

Now the EU is attempting to encourage an islamist party to overturn that ban and re-instate islamic laws, in the name of "democracy". Democracy doesn't work without the rule of law, without stable, free institutions, as evidenced quite nicely by activities within the EU, where the "democratic will" is simply ignored when it's inconvenient. Would you support the adoption of the fundamentalist islamic law in the Untied States if it was chosen in a democratic vote?

Turkey isn't a nice place but it'd be a whole h*ll of a lot worse if they didn't keep these things banned.

davod said...

Some commentators have no understandng of Turkish history. However, the fundamentalist Turkish government while wanting to take it people back to the Dark Ages is not stupid. I believe the have already packed the Supreme Court (or its Turkish equivelent) with supporters.

The brave prosecutor who brought this case has an uphill fight.

I fear for the women if Turkey.

davod said...


This should be receiving much more coverage in the US.

Henrik R Clausen said...

This should be receiving much more coverage in the US.

It should. I see at least two reasons that it doesn't:

The material here runs diametrically contrary to US policies in the area, and is therefore ignored. US has been the strongest force in pushing Turkey upon us rather uninterested Europeans. It's a bad idea born out of the Balkan wars, and only undue US interference has kept the unpopular EU-Turkey process running. Or 'walking', rather...

And US voters are much more concerned about who will get to run their country than what said rulers will do once in office.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Unfortunately, Gates of Vienna and its many often intelligent commentators are succumbing to what I call "ACLU Disease."

Ehm, I hope you realize you're insulting just about everyone around you?

I'm not sure that goes down so well.