May 19 controversy continues

May 19 controversy continues

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
May 19 controversy continues

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan poses with the members of his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) youth branch. Erdoğan slammed a recent court ruling on May 19 celebrations in his speech yesterday. AA photo

A political debate over how to celebrate May 19, the day marking the beginning of the War of Independence in 1919, between the government and opposition parties has deepened after a court annulled a government decree to limit the scope of the celebrations.

“No one should dare to discipline or brandish us like a tutor over May 19 celebrations anymore,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in his address to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Youth Branches yesterdau. Erdoğan’s words came as a criticism of a Council of State verdict that annulled the Education Ministry’s decree restricting mass celebrations outside Ankara.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), asked everyone to be respectful of the judicial decisions and to implement them. When asked about Education Minister Ömer Dinçer’s statement calling the decision “strange,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, “You should ask Mr. Ömer Dinçer. It seems his notion of legal culture has not been sufficiently developed.”

Erdoğan, without referring to the Council of State’s decision, harshly criticized those who stood against the government’s way of celebrating national events.

“No one can dare to give a lesson to us, to the (AKP’s) youth on April 23, May 19 and October 29. To the contrary those who want to understand the spirit of these days should come here and learn from this youth. Turkey no longer belongs to a group of elitists or certain groups,” he said.

A pious generation should not divide: PM

Erdoğan repeated his much-discussed policy of raising religious generations in his lengthy address to the party youth and said his focus on raising a youth loyal to Turkey’s national, religious and traditional norms was in fact a reaction to earlier policies which classified them as second-class citizens in their homeland.

“We have been treated as if we were foreigners, second-class citizens for decades. Years have passed but today I am openly saying that we are in rampancy,” he said. “I have voiced my desire for a religious generation but the status quo composed of elitists, some parts of the media and some intellectuals did not understand and did not want to understand. We have suffered from oppression and pains,” he said, adding generations in this country were not allowed to freely learn the Quran, and mosques were closed down by CHP rules.

In the name of modernization and Westernization, Turkish people’s links with their moral values had been weakened, Erdoğan said, adding that their purpose now was to raise generations strongly attached to this country’s national and moral values to stop the effects of culture imperialism. “Sorry about that! But elitists should know that we are in this country and are first-class citizens. This policy is not for dividing the country or formatting generations. To the contrary we want to provide more freedom,” he said. “But elitists and despotic intellectuals cannot understand this.”