CHP calls on speaker to resign as outrage persist over secularism remarks

CHP calls on speaker to resign as outrage persist over secularism remarks

CHP calls on speaker to resign as outrage persist over secularism remarks

DHA photo

Public outrage has persisted over Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman’s recent remarks proposing the abolition of secularism, as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has continued to call for his resignation amid other protests and criminal complaints.

“We are saying once again, the parliamentary speaker should resign. Everyone who agrees that secularism is an indispensable component of Turkey, including all political parties and all segments of the society, should join in our call,” deputy chair and CHP spokesperson Selin Sayek Böke told journalists following the party’s central executive board meeting on April 27. 

Böke argued Kahraman’s comments were not casual remarks but rather consciously uttered words “that reflect the AKP’s [ruling Justice and Development Party] perception on the liberty, equality and the culture of co-existence of each of us,” and a manifestation of the policies that the AKP has pioneered since it came to power in 2002. 

Underlining the comments did not belong to just anybody, but the speaker of Turkey’s parliament, Böke argued the AKP should join the main opposition in asking for Kahraman’s resignation if they indeed do not support his remarks. 

“If the AKP agrees with these words, then the AKP also [wishes] to abolish secularism and admits that itself is an obstacle in the face of freedoms, equalities and democracy in Turkey,” she said, stressing that preserving secularism was the CHP’s red line and that the party would fight to protect it “until the last CHP supporter dies.”

CHP General-Secretary Kamil Okyay Sındır reiterated Böke’s position, discussing Kahraman’s retreat from his initial comments by saying he only expressed his “personal opinions” did not “mean anything.”

“The parliamentary speaker made these remarks in front of the public and not during a visit to his neighbors. Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman’s comments on secularism do not suit that grand office,” Sındır said. 

Meanwhile, members of the teachers’ union Eğitim-İş staged process across a number of cities including Istanbul and the Aegean province of İzmir, expressing their discontent by chanting slogans and appealing to legal procedures. 

In separate gatherings, the union argued that Kahraman committed a crime by “openly challenging the principle of secularism” and through misconduct, and filed criminal complaints against the speaker. 

Protesters from a range of civil society organizations including the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life (ÇYDD) and the Women of the Republic Association (CKD) also protested against Kahraman, stressing secularism was a precondition of democracy and the sole guarantee of women’s rights.