Top court annuls ban on publication of ‘Risale-i Nur’

Turkeyand’s Constitutional Court has annulled a law sponsored by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that declared a monopoly over the publication of the andquotRisale-i Nurandquot collection, written by prominent Islamic scholar Bedianduzzaman Said Nursi, on the grounds that the law violates freedom of expression, the right to property and the right to artistic freedom.
The court, which made its decision by a majority of votes, stipulated that its ruling will not come into force until one year after its publication in the Official Gazette.
The and”Risale-i Nurand” collection is a tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran that explains the truths of faith in accordance with modern science.
The AK Party passed an omnibus bill in November of last year, the 47th article of which prevented publishing houses from printing the andquotRisale-i Nurandquot collection because the publishers are not the legal heirs of the author. In accordance with the law, exclusive publishing and distribution rights to the collection were initially given to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on April 10 and then handed over to the Religious Affairs Directorate. Kadir Akbai, a lawyer representing the Yeni Asya daily, brought a lawsuit demanding the annulment of the law.
Turkeyand’s main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) petitioned the Constitutional Court last year for the revocation of the controversial law. Kazim Ganduleandcyanduz, the editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya — which is affiliated with a branch of the Nur movement established by Nursi in the early period of the Turkish Republic — said at the time that the CHPand’s aim to overturn the ban of was a and”historicand” one.
The top court based its ruling on two reasons, one from the perspective of property rights and another from the perspective of freedom of expression and the right to artistic freedom. The court said that the law violated the financial and moral rights of the workand’s heirs and limited the availability of an artistic work to the public, hence violating freedom of expression and artistic freedom. The Constitutional Court referred to Articles 13, 26 and 27 of the Constitution to legally substantiate its ruling.
Yeni Asyaand’s Ganduleandcyanduz, who was the first to announce the courtand’s ruling last month before the court made its official statement on Thursday, criticized the courtand’s decision to keep the ban in place for one year. Writing on his Twitter account, he said, and”What is the reason why the Constitutional Court has decided to keep the ban in place for one more year even though it canceled it on the grounds that it violates rights and freedoms and an intervention in democracy?and”
The printing of the collection has been halted since April of 2014. The AK Party governmentand’s ban on the publication of the and”Risale-i Nurand” was thought to be part of its efforts to crack down on the faith-based Gandulen movement, against which it launched a war following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December 2013 that implicated senior members of the AK Party government.
The government accused the Gandulen movement — also known as the Hizmet movement and inspired by the Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gandulen — of being behind the corruption scandal, despite a strong denial from the movement. Gandulen was influenced by the ideas of Said Nursi.
The and”Risale-i Nurand” collection consists of 14 books and was written between the 1910s and 1950s in Turkey. It has been translated into dozens of languages. Nursi, the author of the and”Risale-i Nurand” collection, faced state pressure during his life and his books were often banned by the regime. More than 27 million copies of the collection have been published freely by many publishing houses since the death of Nursi.