ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Democratic and secular countries cannot have one religion,’ says Hüseyin Çelik. DHA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on “one religion” for Turkey were a slip of the tongue in his apparent intention to emphasize the common Muslim faith of Turks and Kurds, a senior official of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said. Erdoğan’s controversial comments had sparked concerns that he was targeting the secular system with his statements.
“Democratic and secular countries cannot have one religion. Our attitude towards [non-Muslim] minorities is evident. As someone who has known the prime minister for years, I can say that this was a slip of the tongue,” AKP deputy chairman Hüseyin Çelik told daily Radikal, stressing that the party’s statute rejected “ethnic, religious and regional nationalism.”
Erdoğan made the controversial remarks in two separate speeches over the weekend as part of comments on the Kurdish conflict. Addressing Kurds, he said that he had never advocated one language for Turkey but “one nation, one state, one flag and one religion.”
Çelik suggested that Erdoğan might have intended to emphasize the common religion of Islam that Turks and Kurds share, in the face of “attempts by Turkish and Kurdish chauvinists to trace their origins to Shamanism and Zoroastrianism.” The prime minister “may have meant to say that a common faith is one of the main reasons that no ethnic strife has erupted in this country despite all the efforts of Turkish and Kurdish chauvinists,” he said.
The co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, denounced Erdoğan’s remarks yesterday and reminded him that he had spoken of “one language” for Turkey in a speech in Parliament in 2010.