A Twitter post shared by a member of the Constitutional Court hours after a local court ignored a top court ruling unconstitutionally stirred debate late on Oct. 13, with the government interpreting it as a coup message.
"The lights are on," tweeted top court member Engin Yıldırım with a picture of the court's building, meaning that the Constitutional Court is working at that late hour.
Yıldırım's tweet came hours after Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court rejected former main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu's demand for a retrial despite a previous top court ruling. The local court's decision was slammed for being openly unconstitutional.
Shortly after Yıldırım's tweet went viral, the Interior Ministry shared a picture of its own building, saying, "Our lights are never off."
Işıklarımız hiç sönmüyor. pic.twitter.com/q8k5S1uMYm— TC İçişleri Bakanlığı Maske? Mesafe↔️ Temizlik? (@TC_icisleri) October 13, 2020
Pro-government social media users interpreted Yıldırım's tweet as a coup message, saying that the general staff used to tell the government that its lights are on as a warning.
Turkey has suffered from multiple military coups in the past. The most recent attempt was on July 15, 2016, when soldiers loyal to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen tried to seize power.
Following controversy, Yıldırım explained why he tweeted the picture.
"I meant the lights of the law and not other things," he said.
The Interior Ministry sent another tweet after Yıldırım's explanation, saying that the operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the country's southeast are ongoing "as our lights continue to be on."
Işıklarımız yanmaya devam ederken...— TC İçişleri Bakanlığı Maske? Mesafe↔️ Temizlik? (@TC_icisleri) October 13, 2020
Ağrı Doğubayazıt kırsalında, Yıldırım 3 operasyonu kapsamında;
İl Jandarma Komutanlığına bağlı Jandarma Komando ve JÖH birliklerince başlatılan ve devam eden Hava Kuvvetleri destekli operasyonda 6️⃣ terörist etkisiz hale getirildi. https://t.co/SLhENq5cwy
This is not the first time that the ministry and the top court are at odds. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu is known for targeting the Constitutional Court over its rulings frequently, going as far as to say that court head Zühtü Arslan employed the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen when he was the head of the police academy.
In one instance, Yıldırım responded to Soylu by saying, "No body, authority or individual has the right to give orders to courts and judges."
As Twitter continued to discuss the meanings of the tweets between the ministry and the top court member late on Oct. 13, Yıldırım released a message, saying that he is saddened by how his tweet was interpreted.
"My aim was to emphasize that the Constitutional Court is a light of the law. I never implied anything outside democracy," he said.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik slammed Yıldırım on Oct. 14.
Türkiye’ye geçmişte acılar yaşatmış müdahalelerin sloganının bir Anayasa Mahkemesi Üyesi tarafından kullanılması utanç verici bir saygısızlıktır.— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) October 14, 2020
Hukuktan başka bir dili olmaması gereken bir AYM mensubunun hukuku katletmenin sembolü olan bir dille konuşması vahimdir.
"It's shameful and disrespectful for a Constitutional Court member to use a slogan of the interventions that made Turkey suffer in the past. It's grave for a court member to use a discourse that is the symbol of killing the law," Çelik said.
"These interventions have destroyed the constitutional order and made our people suffer. Our order of law was destroyed as a result of them," he added.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan urged the Constitutional Court to "stop this cheap and ridiculous trolling."
"Don't we know what this statement means?! Pull it together!" he said.
Bu saçma ve ucuz trollüğe önce AYM Başkanı ve diğer AYM üyeleri dur demelidir!— Bülent TURAN (@turanbulent) October 13, 2020
AYM üyesi olmuş birinden devlet adabı, yargıç ağırlığı ve ciddiyeti beklemek hakkımız!
Bı imalı ifadenin ne demek olduğunu bilmiyor muyuz?!
Bu ne saçmalık, kendinize gelin! https://t.co/23w9ZEqNAs
AKP deputy Mehmet Muş also condemned Yıldırım's tweet, saying that no one can threaten the will of the nation.
"These people won't allow juristocracy lovers," Muş said.
Anayasa Mahkemesi üyesinin tehdit iması içeren "AYM'nin ışıkları yanıyor" sözlerini kınıyoruz.— Dr. Mehmet Muş (@mehmedmus) October 13, 2020
Hiçbir kurum yada kişi milli iradeye gözdağı veremez.
Jüristokrasi heveslilerine bu millet fırsat vermez!
Another AKP deputy, Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı, shared a picture of the presidential palace with its lights on.
Milli İradenin Işıkları ışıl ışıl hamdolsun❗??❗ pic.twitter.com/Vju3mNZfP6— Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı (@ahmethamdicamli) October 13, 2020
The Constitutional Court is set to hold an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 14. It also released a statement, saying that a member's post from his personal social media account doesn't reflect the court's views.
"The court stands with the democratic state of law and rejects all anti-democratic attempts against the constitutional order just like it said in the statement released on July 15, 2016," read the statement.Local court rejects Enis Berberoğlu's retrial demand unconstitutionally despite top court ruling