Courts Take Action To Protect Turkey's Secular Democracy: Second Warning On Turban Comes From Another High Court

Following yesterday’s warning issued by the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargitay), another statement of warning was released today by the presidency of the Council of State (Danistay) on the issue of turban. The statement of the highest administrative court said that if the current changes that are being contemplated [by the government] are not in line with the core and unchangeable principles of the Constitution, such behavior will jeopardize all the gains of the Republic. It also expressed concern that the said initiatives [to lift turban ban] will end up being not limited only to some educational institutions, but will harm the national peace and harmony. The statement emphasized the four characteristics of Turkish Republic as “secular, democratic, social, and governed by rule of law” and said that these are the core constitutional principles of Turkey that cannot be altered and no suggestion can be made for them to be altered.

The statement said, “Countries that respect and aspire to live under the universal rule of law, must not ignore the decisions of the national and international courts and must refrain from making constitutional or other changes that would void those decisions. Basing their decisions on the evaluation of the Constitution’s opening section and its 2nd, 10th and 24th Articles both the Constitutional Court and Danistay have ruled in the past that religion-based and anti-secular arrangements and initiatives cannot be recognized and defended as democratic rights.

The European Court for Human Rights has also asserted that [Turkish] universities had the right to impose a ban on religious symbols, and that such ban was not in conflict with European Bill of Human Rights.

In accordance with the separation of powers as the most important principle of the rule of law, our Constitution clearly states that the legislative and executive organs and the administration must abide by the law and the judicial rulings, and cannot take any action against them or to void them. Therefore when new initiatives are taken utmost care must be shown to ensure those policies don’t violate in any way, the core principles of the Constitution and the judicial rulings”.

Source: Milliyet, Hurriyet, Sabah, Turkey, January 18, 2008

Posted at: 2008-01-18

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