Turkey’s justice minister says “judiciary activism” is a thing of the past

Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül says the time of the country’s judiciary legitimizing coups is now over.

“In the past we have seen examples of a group of people in the judiciary who legitimize coups by receiving briefings from the army. But our view is that such things are better left in the past. Surely it is our common mission to protect and consolidate the autonomy of the judiciary.”

Gül made the comments in an interview with the mass circulating daily newspaper the Hurriyet.

“The judiciary should not be where societal issues are turned into national crises. This is judiciary activism. I believe that in the current situation there is a move towards a more democratic, pro-freedom stance in the judiciary that is in line with the (country’s) laws,” he was quoted as saying.

Commenting on a recent statement by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Council of State  “the presence of the headscarf at the Turkish Security Forces is incompatible with laicism (secularism)” as well as calling for a return of the national oath to schools, Gül said he did not believe the Council of State was ideologically inclined in any way.

“In the past, we have seen examples of judiciary activisim a lot. I don’t think this incident (the statement of prosecutor at Council of State ) is at that level. These kinds of agendas are behind us,” he said.

Rights and freedoms

Gul further commented on the current status quo over head scarves and discrimination.

“There have been major developments regarding freedoms in Turkey.  Discrimination between those who wear or do not wear the headscarf is a thing of the past. To bring back these divisive attitudes is unacceptable in a society based on freedoms and democracy.  No one benefits from this, and as such, the Council of State made a decision that is pro-freedoms and basic rights.”

“No one is denied an education based on wearing a headscarf in Turkey any more.  We must talk about how we can improve rights and freedoms for all sides and everyone. The judiciary is expected to stand against such curbing of freedoms, and we see such decisions coming from them.”

Europe and Demirtaş

Gül, referring to Selahattin Demirtaş, the minister said that Europe’s stance over the arrest of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP was contradictory.

“The European Court of Human Rights held that the arrest of Demirtas is in line with the law. You can’t say, ‘this arrest is political’ after making this decision. This is a contradiction. This makes us think whether the European Court of Human Rights is politically motivated. The decision is not final, it will be confirmed after the judicial process is complete. The courts would never take a political stance regarding this issue. But it is interpreted as such, and this is unfair.”

Gülenists extradition woes

Gül said that so far there was little, if any acceptance of the government’s stance that the Gulen movement, known labeled by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization (FETO).

“No country accepted FETO as a terrorist organization and listened to our requests of repatriation. There have been no cases of repatriation from the US, UK and Germany. The negotiations are ongoing. I made this request to all of them,” he said.

Turkey’s government claims that Gulen movement was behind the failed 2016 coup attempt and have since 2016 attempted without success to extradite cleric Fethullah Gülen from the United States. They accuse him of being the coup mastermind. Gülen denies any interference and all accusations.

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