Turkey PM guarantees new draft constitution contains secularism
Apr 27, 2016 10:36 AM EDT
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed on April 27 that the country's new draft constitution will continue to feature secularism as a principle. This is in line with the nation's traditional founding principles of secularism, democracy and rule of law.
According to Reuters, Davutoglu guaranteed secularism during a televised speech. He said, "Secularism will feature in the new constitution we draft as a principle that guarantees citizens' freedom of religion and faith and that ensures the state is at an equal distance from all faith groups." He added that Turkey's secularism, which has been under the rule of the AK Party (AKP) since 2002, is not "up for debate".
The Prime Minister stressed said that the government would aim for "liberal secularism" instead of an "authoritarian" one while emphasizing the importance of human dignity and human rights on the basis of European standards, according to Daily Sabah.
Davutoglu's statements come after parliamentary speaker Ismail Kahraman called for Turkey's need for a religious constitution. According to an article on DW, he said, "We are a Muslim country. That is why we need a religious constitution." Kahraman, who belongs to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP, is overseeing the draft charter.
His views are reportedly considered largely contrary to the nation's founding principles and were met with massive controversy in the predominantly Muslim country. Kahraman's comments, which he later said were "personal views" that do not reflect that of the AKP, led to protests in the major cities of Ankara and Istanbul and drew the ire of opposition parties. Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired by police to disperse demonstrators on April 26.
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik reiterated that the new constitution will continue to have secularism as a principle since it is part of the party's values together with democracy and rule of law. The AKP has roots in political Islam and is pushing for a constitutional reform. Turkey, a NATO member, has long been touted by Western partners as a model of secular democracy.