Hakan Şükür criticized the ruling party’s stance on the recent debate over prep-schools, which government wanted to shut down. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Istanbul deputy and former professional football player Hakan Şükür has announced his resignation from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In a statement released after news of his resignation emerged, Şükür cited the government’s stance in its rift with the movement of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen over plans to shut down exam prep schools.
“The AKP has put its signature to many important successes and reforms over the past 11 years, but the senseless attitude adopted since the dershane [prep-school] issue broke out has offended many conscientious people,” said Şükür, a former Turkish international player who is known for his close ties with the Gülen movement.
“Making dershanes seem like the only source of educational problems in Turkey, when there are tens of educational problems waiting to be solved, is not the right approach at all. This approach does not fit with the line that the party has represented for the past 11 years,” he added.
Şükür, who was elected as the AKP’s Istanbul deputy in the June 2011 elections, will remain in Parliament as an independent deputy. After Şükür left the party, the number of AKP deputies dropped to 325, while the number of independent lawmakers in the Parliament increased to seven.
The row between the Gülen movement and the AKP escalated after daily Taraf revealed Nov. 28 that the government had signed a National Security Council (MGK) decision recommending an action plan against the Gülen movement in 2004. The government then decided to set September 2015 as the deadline for the “transformation” of prep schools into private schools, but the tension does not seem to have been defused.
“I have known and loved the Hizmet [Service] movement and Hocaefendi [Gülen] for more than 20 years. Treating these sincere people, who supported the government on every issue that they thought was for the good of the people - particularly in the [2010 constitutional] referendum, when they visited people door to door to persuade them, and transported thousands of people from abroad to vote, and prayed for the AKP not to be closed-down – as if they are enemies, is nothing but unfaithfulness,” Şükür’s resignation statement read.
“These people, whose dershanes are being closed, who have been ousted from public institutions, and who are subject to profiling and pressuring practices that have been described as immoral by our party managers, are the sons of this nation,” it also added, slamming many circles for remaining silent or joining “the choir to finish the Cemaat [Community].”
Şükür’s break with the government is the second recent example, following AKP Kütahya deputy İdris Bal’s resignation on Nov. 30. Bal had earlier been sent to the AKP’s disciplinary board after expressing dissenting statements on a number of issues, including the government’s stance on the Gezi protests and the prime minister’s opposition to co-ed student housing, but the final straw was apparently his condemnation of the move to scrap dershanes.