From Islamonline, “Sezer Vetoes Penal Code Over Religious Schools,” with thanks to KAOSKTRL.
ANKARA – Turkey’s President Ahmet Necdet Sezer Friday, June 3, vetoed a government-sponsored law reducing penalties for unauthorized religious schools teaching the Noble Qur’an, arguing that it infringed on the secularist principles of the Muslim-majority country.
The provision was part of a package of amendments to the Turkish penal code, spearheaded by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The article, which would have enabled those convicted of opening and running “illegal” educational institutions to escape with a fine rather than a jail term of up to three years, triggered accusations that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is condoning “religious fundamentalism”, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Sezer, a staunch secularist who has often clashed with the government, said in a statement that he had returned the law to parliament for reconsideration because it “is encouraging the opening of illegal educational institutions.”
The principle of secularism “is the cornerstone of the values on which the Turkish Republic is founded,” he said.
“It is obvious that the country’s unity in the future will be endangered by the perverted mindsets of citizens educated in illegal separatist and religious educational institutions,” he said.
The parliament will now review the law, and if it passes it for a second time unchanged, Sezer has no other option but to approve it. He can, however, ask the constitutional court to annul the legislation…
The chip, chip, chipping away of secularism in Turkey continues…stay tuned for future developments.