One gets the impression from this report that about all Faruk Ã‡elik could do was to keep repeating the refrain, “Turkey is a secular, democratic country,” and hope it would stick if he said it enough. At least a few reporters seemed to be having none of it.
“Turkey not becoming an Islamic country, state minister says,” from the HÃ¼rriyet Daily News, January 14:
State Minister Faruk Ã‡elik on Friday said Turkey is a democratic, secular country and its position, as it continues to work toward EU membership, is very clear and not open to any controversies.
Ã‡elik spoke to foreign journalists gathered at the Prime Ministry’s office at DolmabahÃ§e Palace on Friday on a variety of subjects, from the so-called “alcohol prohibition” to AyÅŸe Sucu’s removal from the Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation.
However, new restrictions on Turkey’s alcohol laws and the “shifting axis” issue dominated the press conference. Ã‡elik and Public Diplomacy Coordinator Ibrahim KalÄ±n replied to many questions about the new law, including queries on whether it was against human rights and freedoms and whether tourism would be affected.
Ã‡elik said the government aimed to control unprotected sales but not to prohibit the consumption of alcohol in hotels or any place with a license to sell alcohol.
“The law favors hotels; it doesn’t discriminate against them, thus it will not affect tourism,” KalÄ±n said.
KalÄ±n said the legal age to purchase alcohol in Turkey is still 18, not 24 as has been reported in the press. “In a public event, people could bring gallons of alcohol without licenses; this sometimes causes people to open fire in the air.” A reporter asked the pair, in response, “Instead of alcohol restrictions, is the government considering limiting individual armament?” Her question was not answered.
In response to journalist’s observation that Turkey looks like a Sunni Islamic country in light of the new restrictions, Ã‡elik said the fact that the majority of the country is Muslim is another issue but the state is a democratic and secular country….