Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik has said that the party's stance with regards to the principle of secularism is “clear” and that it cannot be removed from the constitution.
“The AKP's stance with regards to the secularism is clear; it was also in our [party] bylaw. We want it to stay in the constitution; it can absolutely not be removed. When we look at our surrounding geography, secularism is a mechanism that ensures peace. We believe that the principle of secularism needs to be protected in the constitution,” Çelik said during a press conference on Sept. 13.
Çelik's comments came after Resul Tosun, a former AKP lawmaker, has called for the principle of secularism to be erased from the constitution, claiming it was being "abused" by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
“The principle of secularism, as is the case in all modern countries, should be either removed from the constitution or should be included in a way that will prevent abuse,” wrote Tosun in an opinion piece in pro-government daily Star on Sept. 12.
CHP MP Engin Özkoç slammed Tosun over his remarks, saying his party will “struggle until the end against those trying to uproot the principle of secularism from the Republic.”
In his statement on social media on Sept. 12, Özkoç said that there is nothing that might lead to abuse in the principle of secularism.
1- Eski AKP Milletvekili Resul Tosun: "İstismarı önlemek için laiklik ilkesi tüm çağdaş ülkelerde olduğu gibi ya anayasadan çıkarılmalı ya da istismarı engelleyecek netlikte tarif edilerek yer almalıdır." demiş. Resul Tosun'un laikliği anlayamadığı çok açık. Anlatalım!— Engin Özkoç (@enginozkoc) September 12, 2021
During the press conference on Sept. 13, AKP spokesperson Çelik said that his party neither agrees with Tosun nor Özkoç with regards to their remarks on the issue.
Çelik said that the principle of secularism was previously used as a “tool of imposition and oppression” and that it was turned into another ideology that damaged democracy.
The AKP is preparing to present a new constitution to the public in the first months of 2022.
In February, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the AKP, had spoken of the need to draft a new and “civilian” constitution for Turkey. He had said that the new constitution aimed to update the "understanding of basic rights and freedoms," without elaborating.