Diyanet personnel banned from involvement in politics to ‘protect democratic, secular state system’
The Constitutional Court has issued an explanation for its rejection of a local court’s demand to cancel a regulation in the Civil Servants Law banning Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) personnel from involvement in politics.
“It is a constitutional obligation to protect the democratic and secular state system against potential interventions that could be undertaken by an institution involved in running activities related to Islamic religious beliefs,” the top court said in its explanation published in the Official Gazette, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Jan. 17.
Diyanet personnel face expulsion from employment if they “praise or criticize a political party, whether on duty or off duty” as per the Turkish Civil Servants Law. This regulation was demanded to be cancelled by a local court in the western province of Eskişehir, which applied to the Constitutional Court.
The top court unanimously rejected the Eskişehir Second Administrative Court’s cancellation request on Dec. 13, 2017, but it only recently released its justification behind the ruling, which was published in the Official Gazette.
“In the constitution, it has been stated that freedom of expression can be limited for the protection of the essential principles of the Republic. It has been indicated that the Directorate of Religious Affairs can fulfill its duties, in line with the secular principle, by staying out of all political remarks and thoughts and aspiring after national solidarity and union,” the top court said in its explanation.
“The regulation, which bans directorate personnel from engaging for or against any political party, from making complimentary or slanderous remarks for a political party and which calls for the dismissal of those who engage in such actions, is in order to ensure the public order,” the court also said.