Erdoğan lashes out at Supreme Court of Appeals

Erdoğan lashes out at Supreme Court of Appeals

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the top judges about their statements on the headscarf.

January 21, 2008, Monday/ 19:26:00
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strongly criticized the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State on Saturday, stressing that no one should see himself as above the will of Parliament.Delivering a speech at a congress organized by the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) women's branch in İstanbul's Ümraniye district on Saturday, Erdoğan criticized a statement released on Jan. 17 by Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, saying that no person should perceive himself as standing above Parliament. "No one should try to put pressure on political parties," he said.

In the midst of calls by some political leaders to lift a ban on wearing headscarves at universities, Yalçınkaya said that lifting the headscarf ban would violate the "secular and unitary structure" of the state. In a written statement Yalçınkaya warned political parties not to violate principles of the republic, noting that efforts to destroy Turkey's modern structure would sow division and cause conflict.

Yalçınkaya's remarks came at a time when Erdoğan had said Turkey's headscarf problem could be solved through consensus over a sentence in the Constitution. Erdoğan's proposal was backed by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who said an amendment to the fourth clause of Article 10 of the Constitution, which regulates public services, could eliminate the problem.

In his speech Erdoğan said no one has the right to interfere in individuals' attire and added: "Deciding on what to wear is each individual's personal preference, and no one has the right to interfere in this preference. Let everyone wear what they want. This is something related to fundamental freedoms."

Wearing the Islamic headscarf was banned in universities in the late 1990s in a ruling by the Constitutional Court on grounds that this would be a violation of the nation's secular principles as it is a political and a religious symbol.

Noting that Turkey is a secular republic founded on the principle of the division of powers into legislative, executive and judiciary branches, Erdoğan noted that everyone should fulfill his own task within the framework of the Constitution. "Our objective is to have Turkey reach the level of contemporary civilization and prosperity, set by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern republic," he said.

Erdoğan also responded to columnists who directed harsh criticism at him, saying he was spoiled by the 47 percent election victory. "As the government, we will take necessary steps to protect fundamental freedoms. We have no problem with that," added Erdoğan.

Some columnists have recently asserted that Erdoğan is waiting for the right time to implement his secret Islamic agenda. "He has decided to be himself from now on because his 'chemical structure' was spoiled by the intoxication of the 47 percent election victory," said one columnist.

Recalling that Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal opposes moving the central bank out of Ankara, Erdoğan said Baykal is inconsistent in his acts. "It was he who moved İş Bank to İstanbul from Ankara. He says the central bank was established in the capital by Atatürk and is one of the symbols of the republic. İş Bank was established by Atatürk as well, so why did Baykal change its location?" he asked.

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