Debate on religion takes over politics in Ankara

Debate on religion takes over politics in Ankara

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Debate on religion takes over politics in Ankara

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks ysterday during a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party that brought together the party’s provincial heads. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Political squabbles over religion simmered in Ankara yesterday as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asserted that raising devout generations was part of his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mission.

“Do you expect the conservative democrat AK Party to raise atheist generations? This may be your business and objective but not ours. We will raise a generation that is conservative and democratic and embraces the values and historical principles of its nation,” Erdoğan said at an AKP gathering.

His remarks came in response to criticism by Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who had called the premier a “religion-monger” and accused him of fomenting divisions among people along religious lines. The row was triggered by the application of a CHP deputy to the Council of State seeking the cancelation of a regulation that put graduates of imam-hatip religious high-schools on equal par with others at university entrance exams.

Brushing aside CHP accusations that the judiciary had become a government puppet, Erdoğan said constitutional amendments approved at a referendum in 2010 had marked a “turning point” in reforming the judiciary. “The judiciary is not under government command. It is being purified from your militant mentality,” he said.

In a bizarre remark to Kılıçdaroğlu, he added: “You are now under the magnifying glass. Every step you make and even every breath you take is monitored by the nation.”

CHP hits back
Erdoğan’s comments triggered an angry response from the CHP, with the party’s Deputy Group Chair Emine Ülker Tarhan suggesting Erdoğan’s “anger fits” could be the side effect of his health problems. “Those are fascist views. He is talking total nonsense and should change his advisers,” Tarhan told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“He has a society pattern on his mind. They are trying to design society according to their despotic mentality. Designing the judiciary, the military and now designing family life – that’s too much, too much even for the prime minister,” she said.

Tarhan insisted the judiciary had become “an army with a chain of command” under government control. “But this army will one day hit them as well. They will lose control of the monster they created.” A former judge, Tarhan said she was proud to be “a militant of democracy and judicial independence.”

In further comments yesterday, Erdoğan hailed a move by French parliamentarians to appeal a law that would outlaw the denial of Armenian “genocide” but raised alarm over “the sly rise of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia” in Europe.

He argued the bill was the product of this phenomenon and called on the European Union to act. “The European Union must take measures as a top priority on its agenda,” he said.