No need to specifically emphasize Islam in new charter, says President Erdoğan
Vahap Munyar - ZAGREB
There is no need for a specific emphasis on Islam in the new constitution, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, noting that it was no issue if people live their faith.
“These are all trifling matters. If the faith of all religious groups in this country is guaranteed in the constitution and the state’s equal distance to all religious groups is a foundation, why do you need to especially emphasize Islam? If I can live my faith as a Muslim the way I want to, the issue is over. If a Christian can live his/her Christianity, if a Jew can live his/her Jewishness or an atheist can live his/her atheism, the issue is also over for them,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists in the Croatian capital of Zagreb amid suggestions there were some figures within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who defend an emphasis on Islam in the constitution.
The president also added there would surely be objections if secularism is presented and implemented as anti-religion.
Accordingly, he defined secularism as the state’s equal distance to all beliefs, including atheists, and the fact that all religious groups are under the state’s protection.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also reiterated that Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman’s opinions were his own after the speaker said Aril 25 that the principle of secularism “must be removed” from Turkey’s constitution.
“You cannot possibly lock the mouth of the speaker of parliament. This person has spent all his life in politics. There is an ongoing constitutional debate and he has expressed his views. You either like it or you don’t; this is different,” he said.
“My thoughts have been known since the day I founded the AK Party [AKP]. My thoughts about secularism are recorded in the AK Party program. Besides, İsmail Kahraman has been elected as the speaker of parliament as a member of the AK Party. This shows that he has accepted what has been stated in the AK Party program before being elected to this post. What has he done? In a scientific meeting concerning the new constitution, he has shared his personal views by citing some examples from the world. I expressed my view on this matter in Cairo, Egypt, in my speech at the giant opera building there. I explained that secularism is an assurance of the state for different belief groups; it is the obligation to stay at an equal distance to different belief groups,” Erdoğan said.