The Road to Sharia Law (Erdoğan Remix)

The would-be leader of Sunni Europe. Vienna, 2013

A democratic secular state makes no distinctions among its citizens based on their beliefs. Secularism dominates all basic principles of the constitution, including democracy, and forms the bedrock of Turkey’s legal order.
Religion should not be dominant in state affairs; unlimited freedom should be granted to the spiritual life of individuals; religions should be placed under constitutional guarantee; limitations should be introduced to protect the public order, security and interest and to prevent the exploitation and/or misuse of religion.

The state (not the government), in its role as guarantor of public order and rights, has authority to control issues of religious rights and freedoms.

Political Islam in Turkey is not limited to an individual and his God but claims to regulate the state and society. The basic code of political Islam is sharia. Political Islam and its constitution, sharia, are not democratic, but totalitarian.

To evade the watchful eye of the institutions of democracy, the AKP uses “takiyye” (deceit) — hiding its true intentions to accomplish its goal. This method, too, finds its source in sharia.

Any arrangement that emphasizes religious requirements cannot be democratic; only a secular state can be democratic. Ataturk alone abolished sharia in a Muslim society. The AKP’ s intent is gradually to transform Turkey into an Islamic state, with “moderate Islamic republic” as a mid-point and sharia as end-point.

Colin Powell once termed Turkey a “moderate Islamic republic”, in reference to Erdoğan’s co-chairmanship of BMENA,  a US project aimed at converting involved countries into moderate Islamic regimes.

The headscarf reforms are evidence of the AKP’s intentions to turn the state toward sharia.

The education ministry is the tool used to fulfil the party’s vision. Women who wear headscarves, who challenged bans in court and were rebuffed by courts in Europe, with the argument that the complainant knew the rules under which she was playing when she applied to a certain school.

Statements by officials — the PM, Education Minister Celik, Higher Education Council (YOK) President Ozcan, AKP Vice-Chair Dengir Mir Firat, former PM advisor Cuneyt Zapsu, and others — (intentionally) exploit religion by creating a chaotic environment at universities.

The AKP claims that the headscarf is a human rights issue with PM Erdoğan’s statement that it had become a political symbol; turning a religious element into a political symbol constitutes exploiting religion.

According to Erdoğan, “University-age women wearing headscarves have been under pressure as they have been accused of using their headscarves as a ‘political symbol.’ Even if it is worn as a political symbol, can you consider wearing it … a crime? Can you introduce a ban on symbols?”

Statements by several AKPers emphasise that liberalising use of the headscarf at universities was the first step; their strategy, or so they indicate, is to liberalise wearing the headscarf in the public sector as well.

In Turkey, it is a social fact that many women could not take advantage of higher education because of poverty and because they had to abide by the religious bigotry-led patriarchal order.

The headscarf is the AKP’s tool to negate women’s liberation struggle and the secular merits of the republic.

Liberating the headscarf at universities is a dangerous process that could spread to the public sector; those women who do not wear it will eventually be forced to cover themselves.

Liberalising use of the headscarf would violate the security and unitary structure of the state. Amendments to the constitution and would be in violation of the secularism principle of the constitution.

Despite existing court decisions, AKP members and administrators introduced constitutional arrangements to
liberalise clothing at institutions of higher learning.

Beliefs or clothing, taken as criteria, translate into discrimination within the state and lead to divisions.

The AKP has thus demonstrated its intention to change the basic principles of the Republic of Turkey, to transform the secular Republic, to divide people into those who are pious and who are not, to re-shape the secular judicial structure and to open discussion the future of the regime and the republic.

If the immutable secularism principle of the constitution has been eroded, the Chief Prosecutor must use his authority to protect the regime and the principles of the Republic.

As a result, the AKP should be closed as a centre of anti-secular activities, based on Articles 68/4 and 69/6 of the

The AKP’s efforts constitute an attempt to turn back the clock to the caliphate that existed before Ataturk’s revolution.

The headscarf amendments epitomise the party’s “deceitful game”: step by step, they intend to move toward a “moderate Islamic republic” and thence to theocracy.

The Kemalist state was born at the end of a struggle against an Islamic state headed by a caliphate. If the AKP cannot achieve the regime it wants through democratic means, it might use Jihad – violence – as an alternative means to achieve its aims.

Adapted from a State Department cable (2008). Photograph courtesy of  Michael Gubi. Published under a Creative Commons license.