The Turkish ‘deep state’ and the country’s secular establishment, which includes the military’s officer corp, have struck back with some vigor after the Government led by Recip Erdogan, vowed to root out the ‘deep state;’ and passed legislation against the wishes of the Military which will enable pious young women to wear headscarfs when attending university. The chief prosecutor of the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, has applied to the Constitutional Court to have Erdogan’s Governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) closed down on charges of anti-secular activities. He described the AK Party as a “being a hotbed of anti-secular activities.” He has also asked the Constitutional Court to impose a five-year ban from involvement in politics on 71 senior AK Party members, including Prime Minister Erdoğan and the President of the Turkish Republic Abdullah Gül, plus a number of other AKP Parliamentarians.
What is happening in Turkey is a rerun of what became known as the ‘post modern coup’ of 1997, when the military and its close political allies removed the government and in the process used the Constitutional Court to ban the Welfare Party, [Refah] the forerunner of the AK Party and banned its then leader Necmettin Erbakan from all political offices and activities.
According to the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman, “AK Party members with backgrounds in law say their party differs radically from the RP [Refah] and the FP,[Islamic political party] which were both shut down over the same charges. They think the prosecutor’s indictment — which references to a speech by Prime Minister Erdoğan stating that the headscarf should not be banned in universities even if it is a political symbol and alcohol bans imposed by some AK Party municipalities as evidence for its anti-secularism allegations — does not make a strong case. These deputies say Yalçınkaya has made some serious legal errors in his indictment.
The indictment also lists amendments made to two articles in the Constitution to put an end to a nearly two-decade-old ban against the headscarf on university campuses. However, the two articles are being challenged legally at the Constitutional Court by the opposition. AK Party lawyers state that it would be impossible, technically, to shut down a party over articles about which a legal process is still under way. They also point out that the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which backed the constitutional amendments concerning the headscarf is not facing any charges; making their defense case even stronger.”
The latter point is very interesting as the right-wing MHP reached to an agreement with the AK Party over the headscarf ban so that it could pass through parliament, yet neither the party nor its leader Devlet Bahceli has been indicted before the Constitutional Court.
Any thought of banning the AKP should be opposed by all democrats; and we should not over look the fact that the legislation that is being used in this attempt to ban AK was first introduced by the government which came to power due to the brutal military coup of 1980. The AKP gained their mandate from the Turkish people just last year, when in the July General Election they received 46.6% of the vote, which gave the party 341 seats out of a total of 550 which are available in the Turkish Parliament.
To say it would be catastrophic for Turkey and its people were the Constitutional Court to ban the party would be an understatement, the very fact that the military and deep state have considered a rerun of the ‘post modern coup’ shows how much they fear democratic change and the opening up of the political process. Whilst most of us on the left believe the AKP government has been far to conservative, especially fiscally, there is little doubt it has been the most open and honest government that Turkey has seen for decades.
When undemocratic forces act in the aforementioned manner, the poem attributed to Martin Niemöller is well worth revisiting.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.