Debate over early years of the republic escalates in Turkey

Debate over early years of the republic escalates in Turkey

Debate over early years of the republic escalates in Turkey

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu shows a newspaper page from the 19990s that features a photo of PM Erdoğan sitting next to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan Mujahideen. DAILY NEWS photos, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A war of words raged yesterday over the single-party rule of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the early years of the Republic, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan listed a number of mosques that he said were closed to worship during the time.

Erdoğan dedicated much of his weekly parliamentary speech to discussing CHP rule in the 1930s and 1940s, which he described as “a dark past filled with brutality and oppression.” Pressing his accusations that the CHP was disrespectful to Islam, he mentioned a number of mosques which he said had been closed to the devout. Many of these had been converted into museums or - more commonly - used as military warehouses and barns during World War II mobilization.

The CHP single-party rule left “a scar that would never be wiped off from the heart of this nation,” Erdoğan said.

In his own parliamentary speech, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu responded that the founder of the Republic and its first President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as well as his successor, İsmet İnönü, had strived to prevent Turkey’s involvement in the war.

“He criticizes Atatürk and İsmet İnönü. They fought for the creation of this country. They made an effort so that your father would not die in a war. They kept this country out of war,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu touched on the topic again when addressing children who attended the CHP group meeting. “They [the government] are trying to make you forget Mustafa Kemal and plant in you the seeds of hatred. Don’t be malevolent and keep the spirit of fraternity,” he said.

No justification for coups

Erdoğan vowed that his government would do what was necessary so that all of those responsible for the “post-modern” coup were brought to justice, no matter how far the probe needed to go. No matter the mistakes politicians make coups can never be justified, he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu renewed calls for support to his proposal to pass a “Democratic Package for Coup Cleaning,” a comprehensive set of reforms to amend laws that were passed after the 1980 coup. Reforms would include lowering the election threshold and the abolition of special authority courts. He went one step further and proposed the creation of a parliamentary commission to work toward that purpose.

“Let’s form a commission to remove the coup law as we did for investigating the coups. I’m extending a hand to Erdoğan. If he does not respond, it will mean he is hiding behind the coup laws, which is hypocritical,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.