Turkey’s main opposition leader stresses importance of secularism
'We know that using religion in politics does not lead to serenity in societies like ours,' Kılıçdaroğlu has said. AA photoReligion should never be used as a tool to score points in politics, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has stressed, arguing that such approaches have led to grave consequences in Turkey the past.
“Following [the launching] of ‘Moderate Islam,’ we have seen some radical groups have emerged and collapsed the system. We have seen it in Pakistan, we have seen it in Afghanistan,” Kılıçdaroğlu was quoted as saying in an interview with the Turkish edition of The Wall Street Journal on Feb. 14.
“We know that using religion in politics does not lead to serenity in societies like ours. The secular system is the cement that keeps society together. [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan has held rallies in a mosque yard,” he added.
The CHP leader’s remarks come at a time of considerable political tension in Turkey. A massive graft probe launched Dec. 17 has shaken Erdoğan and his government, while making the feud between the government and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen increasingly visible in the eyes of the public. The tension has reached such a level that senior government officials have said they will launch a criminal investigation into an alleged “parallel state” backed by the U.S.-based Gülen. Erdoğan has accused Gülen’s followers, influential within the police and judiciary, of orchestrating the corruption scandal to unseat him in a “coup” attempt.
Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, ruled out suggestions that his party has gradually become closer to the Gülen movement.
“We have never had warmth with the Gülen community. But there are those who want to create such a perception,” he said, saying that the term “parallel state” would be better applied to government figures involved in corruption.
“There are businessmen, ministers, sons of ministers and Erdoğan. It is an exact parallel structure,” the CHP leader said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also touched on the issue of the bloody civil war in neighboring Syria, criticizing the government’s “support for jihadists.” “Radical groups have emerged. Support to jihadist groups in Syria was lent by the Erdoğan government, and a hefty bill for that [support] has been paid in Reyhanlı,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to a deadly bombing in a town near the Syrian border which left 53 people dead in May 2013.
The attacks, the deadliest on Turkish soil since the start of the Syrian conflict almost three years ago, fuelled local resentment against the refugees living in camps along the volatile border.
Turkey, a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, currently hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, as well as rebels and army defectors.