Turkish army issues Islam warning

  • From: "muslim-news.net" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2003 22:03:10 -0000

The army has carried out three coups since 1960 
The head of the Turkish army has accused the new government of
encouraging Islamic activism. 

It is the first public sign of tension between the military and the new
government led by the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development (AK) Party,
which was elected in November. 

The comments by General Hilmi Ozkok came after Prime Minister Abdullah
Gul entered formal reservations last month against an order expelling
soldiers from the army for Islamic agitation. 

He said that by raising his "opposition" to the expulsions, Mr Gul had
"undoubtedly encouraged those involved in anti-secular activities". 

Headscarf warning 

The country's military views itself as the guardian of the secular
principles of the Turkish state, and has carried out three coups since

In 1997 it led a campaign to force from power Turkey's first
Islamist-led government, led by the AK Party's predecessor, the Virtue

Gen Ozkok says the army's role is to protect Turkey from radical Islam 

At the time of the election last year, General Ozkok said the army would
protect the state from the dangers of radical Islam. 

He also said on Wednesday that the military would not look kindly on any
moves to change laws banning the Islamic headscarf in public life. 

The Islamic head covering is banned in Turkish government offices,
schools and universities - a measure that the AK Party sees as a
violation of human rights. 

Mr Gul said before the election that it would seek to lift the ban, but
has since back-pedalled, saying this is not a priority. 

No appeal 

"We respect the religious faith and the manner of its expression in the
private lives of individuals. We criticise no-one for their belief,
non-belief or manner of worship," General Ozkok said. 

"However, we should not be expected to tolerate the use of these
[privileges] and in particular the headscarf, as a symbol and action
aimed at eroding the republican traditions." 

Mr Gul's objection to the army's expulsion of soldiers for Islamic
agitation centred on the fact that there was no right of appeal. 

He said that the government would seek to rectify this by amending the

General Ozkok said that Mr Gul had, by placing a reservation against a
"constitutional document", violated his responsibility to ensure the
implementation of laws . 

The reservation was therefore "devoid of legal foundation" he said.

Source:  BBC

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