DOIU – A rash statement or a voice of reason?

A rash statement or a voice of reason?Last week the Constitutional Court of Turkey commemorated its 52nd birthday. Its president, Mr. HaIim KIlI, gave a speech in the presence of the president of the republic and the prime minister, among other dignitaries. The government reacted very harshly to the speech he delivered. He was accused of being the voice of the government’s critics as well as vying to become the presidential candidate of the opposition.However, the tension between the court and the government started earlier, when the Constitutional Court found the Twitter ban and the changes made in the law concerning the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) unconstitutional and annulled them.The prime minister found the court’s decision “unpatriotic” and accused the judges of basing their judgments on political concerns. He aised them to take off their judicial robes and participate openly in politics.As it stands today, the Constitutional Court is the only remaining barrier to the hegemonic rule of a party that has broken the chain of checks and balances by uniting all branches of government under a strong executive that is run almost single-handedly by the prime minister. The court and its president seem to be casting a shadow over this increasingly personalized governing style that might end up in a presidential system.Let us see if Mr. KIlI deserves the slander he has been subjected to by scrutinizing the content of his annual speech: “In recent years we have come to judge even the most innocent solutions, thoughts and views concerning current problems after filtering them politically to decide whether to accept or to reject them. This leads to the over-politicization and polarization of society. Increasing tensions among citizens force them to take sides and partisanship leads to people defending ideas without considering whether they are right or wrong.”Can any impartial observer of Turkish society deny this assessment?Mr. KIlI continues: “Challenging problems and suggested solutions may strengthen partisanship but also weaken the chances of developing alliances and dialogue among people and reduce their will to compromise. This fact denies us the richness to be found in diversity.”The politicians and the intellectuals of this country have kept on repeating that our differences are our richness. Yet they, like most other people, have tried to silence different suggestions and exclude people with different cultural traits and identities.Cognizant of this fact, Mr. KIlI says: “It is a human virtue to defend the rights of other people. We may not agree with them but to bear the burden of those whose rights have been violated is an honorable human reflex. Let us not forget that the strength of democratic countries does not rest on bans and prohibitions, but on freedoms.”Indeed, until lately we were boasting about our democracy, a rare commodity in the Middle East and the Islamic world. We were looked upon as an “exemplary country” showing the compatibility between democracy and Islam. Our democracy was the basis of our international respect and the key to becoming a full member of the European Union. So why is the head of the Constitutional Court is now warning us of a shift away from democracy and the rule of law?Whether or not such a question aggravates the members of the government, it has to be asked, for democracy cannot be built on tension and polarization.Mr. KIlI warns the politicians and the public alike against this fact: “Whoever generates tensions, the ensuing wrath and hate speech create emotional ruptures between groups with different opinions and belief. This emotional distancing no doubt will aersely affect our will to coexist. The negative consequences of losing the will to live together may lead to a destruction of common ground in areas like politics, culture, beliefs, art and sports.”He reinforces his reasoning with the following words: “We leave our people locked inside their inner world with thoughts and convictions at the crossroad of hate and fear. Isn’t a pluralist and participatory democratic system a form of cohabitation of differences?”Mr. KIlI emphasizes the central value of all political, legal and religious systems — the human being: “The essence of the universe is the human being and the essence of the human being is his or her honor, incomparable to any other value. This is the only human value that is protected by law and all religions. Those who wield power cannot act as if rights and freedoms are their gift or largesse to the people. No one can pose as the benefactor of rights and freedoms that they bestow on the ‘others.’ Every one of the 76 million [Turkish] citizens is a shareholder of our common house and the beneficiary of civic rights that are under the protection of the Constitution.”Do you see an opportunist, complacent or egocentric man in these statements? Or do you see a responsible man who reminds those who wield power in the name of the people to abide by their oath to act according to the Constitution?If so, why is he suffering slander and a smear campaign?

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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