CHP deputies walk out of parliament over speaker's secularism remarks
ANKARAA group of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies walked out of parliament debates on May 20, in protest at Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman over his previous remarks on secularism.
In the second round of voting on the government’s controversial move to lift the parliamentary immunity of some MPs, CHP deputy Levent Gök demanded that Kahraman apologize for his remarks on secularism and the new constitution, saying it was “not appropriate” for him to oversee the session.
After Kahraman said he stood behind his words, the CHP deputies began to hit their tables and some left the session in protest.
“Turkey is secular and it will remain so,” deputies chanted as they left parliament.
Kahraman had earlier sparked outrage by suggesting in a conference that the principle of secularism “must be removed” from Turkey’s constitution.
“As a Muslim country, why should we be in a situation where we are retreating from religion? We are a Muslim country. So we must have a religious constitution,” he said.
However, he later stepped back from his remarks, saying he had “expressed his personal opinions on the new constitution” and stressing the need to provide a “clear definition of secularism” in the new constitution.
Turkey’s parliament gathered on May 20 to complete the second round of the general meeting over a controversial constitutional amendment that could lift the immunities of 138 lawmakers, particularly from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).