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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sultan Erdogan Moving Quickly Now To End Secularism in Turkey

Erdogan urges vote on presidential system

Middle EastTurkey, RT
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (photo by AFP)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (photo by AFP)

Presstv - Hot on the heels of Prime Minister and longtime henchman Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation, Turkey’s president has urged the holding of a national referendum on the introduction of a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary one in the country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the referendum on Friday, a day after the premier’s resignation.

In order to flip the country’s ruling system, Turkey needs to make changes to its constitution, which itself requires popular approval.

“In order to be strong, we need to rapidly present a presidential system which is the guarantee of stability and trust to the approval of the people,” he said.

(Translated means - I get to be Sultan, and you get to do whatever I want you to do).

Observers say Erdogan may be incrementally accumulating power in his own hands, especially as he indirectly forced out Davutoglu, an ally who, while faithfully following the president’s line, introduced nuances of his own in running the country nevertheless.

Erdogan has been haranguing in favor of a presidential system based on the claim that the country cannot be run by two strongmen.

“A car that has two drivers cannot go without an accident. It will inevitably have an accident,” Ismail Kahraman, the speaker of the Grand National Assembly (Turkish parliament), who is an Erdogan ally, recently said in description of the bid for a presidential system.

Davutoglu had, however, asserted that such a system would eat away at his sphere of authority. On Thursday, he said he would resign from heading the ruling AKP party and premiership when a special congress session is held on May 22 to pick another person.

The party had already stripped the premier late last month of the power to elect provincial party officials, dealing a body blow to his political leeway.

No doubt orchestrated by Erdogan.

'Worse Than Military Coup,'
But EU Stays Silent on Erdogan Press Crackdown 

Sputnik, EUROPE
Can Dundar (C), editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, accompanied by his Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul (L) arrive at the Justice Palace in Istanbul, Turkey May 6, 2016.
Can Dudar, centre, Erdem Gul, left, arriver at the Justice Palace © REUTERS/ Osman Orsal

Freedom of the press a bad joke in Turkey

Two journalists from Turkey's leading newspaper Cumhuriyet have been sentenced to five years in prison for revealing state secrets, but the case against them is purely political since the footage they published only confirmed what everybody already knows about Ankara's activities in Syria, Turkish journalist Zeynep Oral told Radio Sputnik.

Two prominent Turkish journalists, Can Dudar and Erdem Gul, were sentenced on Friday to five years ten months and five years in prison, respectively, for publishing footage that appears to show Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) smuggling arms to opposition groups in Syria.

​However, the charges of terrorism and espionage that were levied against them are baseless because the supposed state secret that they divulged has been well known for some time, Zeynep Oral, President of PEN Center Turkey and a columnist for the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, told Radio Sputnik.

Attempted assassination of Dudar
Journalist Can Dundar's wife and lawyer overpower the gunman.
Dudar's wife and lawyer grab man with a gun who tried to shoot Dudar on the court steps

"In fact both Can Dudar and Erdem Gul were put on trial for spying and terrorism, for attempting to put down the government and so many things, they were even prosecuted as terrorists, but the court acquitted them of all of these."

"They are only being punished for what they have written. The court insisted that they have revealed 'state secrets.' Those secrets are not secrets; everybody knows about them, there are tons of publications about them, it's not a secret any longer, this has already been published before."

Oral believes that the current state of journalism in Turkey is the worst she's seen in her 45-year career, and has resulted from the government's political interference in the media and arbitrary use of the court system.

"I have lived through three different military coups and in none of them was it so bad. At least when you had the military coups you knew what you could write, what was forbidden to write, what was not forbidden to write, what was permissible."

"Now there is uncertainty, you can be prosecuted for anything you write. The same article can be written by different names and one will be prosecuted and the other will not be prosecuted. For me this is a completely political court case, it has nothing to do with justice," Oral said.

At first the Turkish government claimed the trucks were only taking humanitarian aid to Syria, then changed their story and said they were providing arms for the Turkmen in Iraq.

"Then the Turkmen said no, we're not receiving any arms from the Turkish government."

"Then Mr. Erdogan declared, 'I shall not let them go free, they'll have to pay for this.'"

"I think the court obeyed the orders of Mr. Erdogan."

Secular constitution will give way to Islamic constitution

Oral said that while Turkey has a secular constitution, religion has been playing a greater role in political under the current government.

"In the last ten years we have made a lot of concessions in the field of secularism. The education is being changed, the law system is being changed. The president of the parliament is saying, 'we should change our constitution and take away secularism.'"

"All the resonances are becoming more and more religious. Of course, for me, that is unacceptable, not understandable, it's a counter-revolution I would say."

EU selling their soul

Turkey has recently become important to Europe "for the first time" because of its deal over the migrant crisis, but while the EU expresses concern about authoritarianism there, it will not interfere in support of European ideals regarding human rights, particularly freedom of expression, Oral said.

"They are ready to do anything to save their profits, their territory, I won't say their ideals."

"Profits and benefits are more important than ideals, these days, for the EU."

Sultan’s Family? Erdogan’s Children 
‘Walking in Golden Slippers’ 

This file photo taken on November 01, 2015 shows Turkish President's son Bilal Erdogan leaving a polling station in Istanbul on November 1, 2015 after casting his vote for Turkey's legislative
Bilal Edrogan, son of President Erdogan © AFP 2016/ OZAN KOSE


While Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s annual income stands at the modest level of €50,000 ($57,000), his children appear to walk in golden slippers. At the same time, there are no official statistics that appear to explain where all that money originates from, the German newspaper Bild reported.

According to the report, Erdogan’s children occupy luxurious villas and have businesses that are far from transparent. Bilal Erdogan, the Turkish leader’s younger son, for instance, has been suspected of several accounts of money laundering. He has been also spotted engaging in the 2013 corruption scandal along with his sister Esra, the paper notes.

Moreover, it was revealed last year that Bilal has long been covering up Turkish businessmen that close underground bargains with the Daesh extremist group with an annual value of up to $500 million. All attempts to investigate alleged crimes by the president’s son within Turkey had been “swept under the carpet," Aykut Erdogdu, member of opposition People's Democratic Party (HDP) told earlier Sputnik Turkiye.

Turkish President's son Bilal Erdogan leaves a polling station in Istanbul on November 1, 2015 after casting his vote for Turkey's legislative
See No Evil: Erdogan's Son Blocks Access to Websites Detailing His Criminal Connections

The Russian Defense Ministry published last December satellite images that laid bare oil smuggling from Daesh-controlled territories in Syria to Turkey. Despite the country’s establishment’s denial of the allegations of involvement in the dirty business, the trade went on until at least till last February, the RT investigation unveiled.

"In fact, Bilal Erdo─čan is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution," Gursel Tekin HDP vice-chairman told Turkish journalists in August.

Now Recep Erdogan is looking into opportunities to expand both the financial and political influence of his “clan,” Bild noted. After the resignation of current prime-minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the president has started to promote for that post Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim or Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law. Albayak is convenient to Erdogan, as he has proven his loyalty multiple times.