Turkey’s Constitutional Court upholds ban on imams in politics
19 January 2018A regulation prohibiting the open support of political candidates by state-employed imams has been upheld after it was taken to Turkey’s Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was an impediment to free speech, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said . “In a democratic and secular state system, it is a constitutional necessity to protect against possible interventions by an institution whose purpose is to carry out activities relating to belief in the Islamic religion,” the court ruled. The present rules mean that imams and other employees of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) who publicly support political figures could lose their jobs. “It is stated that in line with the principle of secularism, the Religious Affairs Directorate should remain outside all political perspectives and ideas and bring about its duties with the aim of national solidarity and unification,” the Constitutional Court said. Secularism was added to the constitution as a principle of the Turkish republic in a 1928 law replacing a clause of the 1924 constitution in which the religion of the republic was defined as Islam.