Turkish Constitutional Court rejects appeal against ban on state religious officials’ involvement in politics
The Constitutional Court on Dec. 13 unanimously rejected 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.
The ruling came following an application from the Eskişehir 2nd Administrative Court claiming that the regulation banning Diyanet officials from maintaining their neutrality regarding political parties was against the constitution.
The Turkish Civil Servants Law bans state personnel, including those employed at Diyanet, from any political party affiliation and undertaking political actions. Civil servants face expulsion if they sign up as members of a political party, while the penalty for “discriminating based on political views” while on duty is a suspension in promotion.
Diyanet personnel are subject to an additional regulation that requires not just a suspension in promotion but also their expulsion from employment if they “praise or criticize a political party, whether on duty or off duty.”
“Diyanet personnel at every level of employment, apart from the law on prosecution of public servants, cannot praise or criticize one or more of the political parties, whatever the circumstances, either on or off duty. Those determined to have committed such actions as a result of an investigation are dismissed from the profession by the relevant and competent authorities,” states the regulation on Diyanet personnel.
The Eskişehir 2nd Administrative Court requested the cancellation of this clause but the request was rejected by the Constitutional Court.