CHP chairman rejects ‘traditional Kemalism’

CHP chairman rejects ‘traditional Kemalism’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP chairman rejects ‘traditional Kemalism’

Kemalism is a dynamic ideology that is at the forefront of change and against preserving the status quo, Kılıçdaroğlu says. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Kemalism should not be interpreted within the framework of a pro-status quo structure, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, strictly ruling out claims that his party has recently moved away from Kemalism (Atatürkçülük).

“The concept of Kemalism is a dynamic one. No offense, but if you put it in a pro-status quo structure, I would not call that [person] a Kemalist. Against which principle of Kemalism has the CHP stood so far? Or what stance that could be considered as against a principle of Kemalism has the CHP adopted?” Kılıçdaroğlu said July 19. Today’s CHP has been following more dynamic and more progressive policies than in the past, he said.

Kemalism is the founding ideology of both the Turkish Republic and the CHP, the republic’s oldest political party, and Kılıçdaroğlu seemed to be on the defensive when he was reminded of the criticism that he has kept his distance from pro-secularism as well as from Kemalist principles.

In an interview with the CNN-Türk news channel, Kılıçdaroğlu was then asked whether he would still reaffirm his past remark that the CHP is the party of Atatürk and that anyone holding the seat of leadership in the CHP is necessarily a Kemalist. Kılıçdaroğlu answered in the affirmative, saying, however, that he has rejected a “traditionalist” understanding of Kemalism. 

Attempting to clarify his point, Kılıçdaroğlu said he doesn’t consider Kenan Evren, the leader of the military junta that staged the infamous Sept. 12, 1980 coup, to be a Kemalist.

“Kenan Evren is the one who used Atatürk’s name most frequently. Kenan Evren is also the one who disrespected Atatürk’s legacy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “No offense, but I don’t consider the constitution that [Evren] brought in to be a Kemalist constitution, either.”

The presence of the Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is necessary for the public, Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that in a reconstruction of the department, an office dealing with Alevi issues could be opened at the Diyanet.

On July 7 the CHP’s Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün appealed to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office for a cemevi (Alevi house of worship) to be established at Parliament. His request was refused by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek. In his refusal, Çiçek referred to the Diyanet, which says that the house of worship for Islam is the mosque and “Alevism is not a separate religion.”

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