PM pledges to eliminate ‘minority’ concept in social life
AA Photo.The Turkish government is determined to eliminate the phrase “minority” in social life, regardless of whether it exists in international legal documents, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said at a gathering with opinion leaders from the country’s non-Muslim minorities.
“I consider this table to be a conversation circle around which not only the new Turkey but also the new Balkans, the new Middle East and the new Caucasus will be built together,” Davutoğlu said in his speech at the dinner he hosted late on Feb. 11.
“Whoever makes a distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘second-class’ citizens merely on the basis of the concept of being a religious minority, then that person is putting dynamite in the foundations of that state,” he added.
“As I had told the religious leaders who I gathered at Dolmabahçe, we are determined to eliminate the minority concept in social life, though it may exist in some international legal documents such as the Treaty of Lausanne,” he added, referring to the Lausanne Treaty, in which the newly born Republic of Turkey defined its minorities and their rights. On Jan. 2, Davutoğlu had met with non-Muslim religious leaders at the Prime Ministry’s office in the historic Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
However, before hosting non-Muslim leaders in Ankara on Feb. 11, Davutoğlu gave an interview to public broadcaster TRT Haber.
In the interview, broadcast live, Davutoğlu criticized U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen for collaborating with certain circles, including “anti-Islam lobbies,” in the run-up to the centennial anniversary of the 1915 massacres of Ottoman Armenians in Anatolia, which many say amounted to genocide.
Davutoğlu also slammed main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for calling on people to take to the streets against “authoritarianism” that he said is present in the country.
“He [Kılıçdaroğlu] says he will defend the rights of those who wear masks [during demonstrations]. He uses expressions that indicate that he will also defend the rights of those who throw Molotov cocktails. At the same time, the head of the parallel structure is in the New York Times,” he said in an unfinished sentence, referring to the New York Times’ publishing of an editorial penned by Gülen on Feb. 3 that was full of criticism against the government, including on the issue of minorities’ rights.
“An individual who is viewed with very great respect by a segment of this country, or a movement that is regarded with respect, would he pen an article in a way that would mobilize anti-Turkey lobbies and anti-Islam lobbies in America, at a time when the country is passing through the most critical thresholds?” Davutoğlu asked.
“It is like you are attempting ‘whistleblowing’ only two months before April 24, when people are trying to mobilize all of the American lobbies,” he said, referring to the tradition date on which the 1915 events are commemorated by Armenians.
“When we are considering what kind of measures we would take against an attack on Turkey in the 100th anniversary, you published an article provoking and encouraging aggressors,” the prime minister added.