Orders to Purge Civil Servants, Judges; Close Groups Down
July 26, 2016
The first emergency decree under Turkey’s
state of emergency is arbitrary, discriminatory, and unjustified as a
response to the violent coup attempt or other public order concerns.
The July 23, 2016 decree orders the closure of thousands of private
educational institutions, hospitals, and clinics, and associations
allegedly linked to a movement inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a cleric the
government blames for a violent coup attempt on July 15-16.
allows the permanent discharge of judges, prosecutors, and civil
servants without any investigation or possibility of legal challenge.
The decree also extends police powers to detain some suspects for up to
30 days without being taken before a judge and seriously curtails
detainees’ right to private communications with lawyers.
“The first state of emergency decree goes well beyond the legitimate
aim of promoting accountability for the bloody July 15 coup attempt,”
said Emma Sinclair-Webb,
Turkey director at Human Rights Watch. “It is an unvarnished move for
an arbitrary, mass, and permanent purge of the civil service,
prosecutors, and judges, and to close down private institutions and
associations without evidence, justification, or due process.”
The decree was published and became law – no. 667,
published in the Official Gazette – on July 23. It is the first such
decree by the Council of Ministers headed by President Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan under Turkey’s three-month state of emergency, which entered
into force on July 21.
On July 22, the Turkish government notified the
Council of Europe that it was also “derogating” from – that is,
temporarily imposing extraordinary limitations on – the guarantees under
the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which it is a party,
which the convention says a government can only do “in times of public
emergency threatening the life of a nation.”
The decree identifies 35 private health clinics and hospitals; 1,043
private schools and student hostels; 1,229 foundations and
associations; 15 private universities; and 19 trade unions, federations,
and confederations for closure.
The decree states they are closed on
the grounds that they “belong to, are connected or are in communication
with the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ/Parallel State
Structure), which has been identified as a threat to national security.”
As many as 60,000 civil servants – including judges, prosecutors,
police, teachers, and bureaucrats – have already been suspended from
their jobs, and this decree terminates their careers in public service
without a disciplinary investigation.
The decree stipulates that the government can seize property owned
by foundations, hospitals, and clinics. Even if institutions or groups
are not named in the published lists, under article 2/3, they can still
be closed down if they are “identified as being a threat to national
security or are established as being members of terrorist organizations
or linked to them or in contact with them.”
“The wording of the decree is vague and open-ended, permitting the
firing of any public official conveniently alleged to be ‘in contact’
with members of ‘terrorist organizations’ but with no need for an
investigation to offer any evidence in support of it,” Sinclair-Webb
said. “The decree can be used to target any opponent – perceived or real
– beyond those in the Gülen movement.”
Any judge or civil servant, including prosecutors, can also be
removed from their jobs on the grounds of being deemed a threat to
national security, with no possibility of challenging the decision,
reinstatement, or future employment as public officials. In each case
the measure to strip people of their position rests on an administrative
decision without an investigation.
The decree increases the maximum period of police detention from
four days for terrorism and organized crime to 30 days, which violates
the European convention, not least as it increases the risk of torture
and ill-treatment on top of the reports already documented by Amnesty International of abuses in detention since the failed coup.
The European Court of Human Rights had ruled in a 1996 case against
Turkey that detention without being taken before a judge for 14 days,
even in a state of emergency, violates its human rights obligations
under the convention.
The court, acknowledging that Turkey then had a
legitimate state of emergency and derogation, held that “it cannot
accept that it is necessary to hold a suspect for 14 days without
judicial intervention.” It noted that the period was “exceptionally
long, and leaves detainees vulnerable to arbitrary detention and
torture.” (Aksoy v. Turkey, Application No. 21987/93, judgment December
18, 1996 paras. 78, 86.)
The decree also stipulates that in cases relating to terrorism and
organized crime, communications between a detainee in pretrial detention
and their lawyer can be recorded, monitored, limited, or stopped at the
request of a prosecutor if the authorities deem that there is a risk to
security, or if such communications may be a means of passing on
messages or instructions to “terrorist or other criminal organizations.”
Doing so violates the right to an effective defense, Human Rights Watch
said. The authorities reserve the right to appoint another lawyer to
represent the detainee. The decree also significantly curtails
detainees’ rights to family visits and phone calls.
Another troubling provision says that “individuals who make
decisions and perform their duty in the context of this decree bear no
legal, administrative, financial or criminal responsibility for those
duties performed.” That sends a clear signal to police officers and
other officials that anything goes, Human Rights Watch said.
“The government should know that the introduction of 30-day police
detention cannot be justified even under a state of emergency and that
it increases the possibility of torture and ill-treatment of suspects,”
Sinclair-Webb said. “That risk is compounded by the removal of private
communications between a prisoner and their lawyer, which is also
incompatible with the right to an effective defense.”
Al-Azhar says that directive to follow ministry sermons does not apply to its preachers
Monday, July 25, 2016
Mai Shams El-Din
Anger over the decision to unify the Friday
sermon throughout Egypt’s mosques has extended from ministry to imams to
the leadership of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar whose deputy last week
said that the directive to imams to read ministry-issued sermons does
not apply to Al-Azhar preachers.
“Al-Azhar was not officially notified about what is being reported on the written sermon,” Abbas Shouman wrote in a statement
on his Facebook page last week. “It is not binding to Al-Azhar
preachers, who are provided with a library enabling them to pass on
their knowledge. This is apart from the fact there is a careful process
through which the preachers were selected and the experience most of
them have gained through preaching locally and internationally.”
this month, the Ministry of Endowments announced the formation of a
committee to draft Friday sermons to be distributed to imams across the
country, after it had previously moved to unify the topics of each
sermon but left the articulation of their particular points to
In its statement, the ministry said the decision
aims to facilitate imams’ work and guarantee the optimum delivery of
the salient points of assigned topics. The ministry justified its move
with harsh criticism of imams’ delivery of Friday sermons.
member of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars told privately owned
Al-Watan newspaper that the minister is attacking Al-Azhar scholars and
lamented the ministry’s position.
“The ministry’s position saddens me,” Mahmoud Mehanna said.
“Engaging in conflict with Al-Azhar will negatively affect the country.
Egypt is worth nothing without Al-Azhar, it is what brought Islam to
the six continents.”
Mehanna raised questions over the source from which the minister receives orders, implying security involvement.
added that Al-Azhar’s preachers might abandon the Endowments Ministry’s
mosques if they are bound by the decision to unify the sermons.
of the ministry’s Quranic affairs department in the Qalyubiya
directorate, Mohamed Nassar, explains that the ministry uses up to 3000
Al-Azhar preachers to give Friday sermons - on a bonus system. The
preachers also regularly give lessons in ministry mosques.
says that the ministry took this decision on its own without consulting
with Al-Azhar, since it sees itself as a superior ministry that can take
decisions independently and enforce them on whoever preaches in its
“The point of contention is that Al-Azhar sees the
written sermon as a step backwards with regards to religious discourse
in Egypt. Al-Azhar leaders believe that educating imams is the right
step towards renewing the country’s religious discourse.”
expects the conflict between Al-Azhar and the Endowments Ministry to
escalate, until Al-Azhar preachers are banned from preaching in the
ministry’s mosques unless they adhere to the unified sermon.
Ezzat, religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for
Personal Rights, says that both sides are competing over control over
the religious scene in Egypt.
“Al-Azhar’s Sheikh has the
scientific and religious status, but the control over the religious
space is in reality and administratively in the hands of the Endowments
Ministry,” he adds.
Ezzat explains that the conflict dates back
to Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb’s participation in the June 30
alliance that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi and paved the way
for his control over the religious space after the fall of the Muslim
“Gomaa, the current minister, used to work in Tayeb’s
office and Tayeb is the one who recommended him for the Endowments
Minister position, but the competition between them intensified after
that,” he said.
The move to unify Friday sermons dates back to
2013 when the Endowments Ministry was a principal player in the struggle
between the post-June 30 regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, following
the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. It was one of Gomaa’s first
moves, made minister in July 2013.
The ministry was working toward
controlling the religious sphere in order to disarm the Brotherhood of
one of its strongest weapons: religious discourse.
that the diversity of Al-Azhar preachers’ political ideologies might be
the reason behind the state’s mistrust in them, as opposed to the
Endowments Ministry imams who are under its administrative control.
common idea that Al-Azhar represents moderate Islam, at the top of
which is the Council of Senior Scholars, with Tayeb at its head, is
misleading, he says.
“The Council of Senior Scholars is a minority
who are carefully picked,” Ezzat explains. “The majority of Azharis
belong to Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood groups, some of whom have
opposing positions to Al-Azhar and are thus not in line with either the
state or the leadership within Al-Azhar.”
Egypt's media welcomed,
unabashedly, the Turkish military coup; prematurely hailing Erdogan’s
July 26, 2016
Ahmed Magdy Youssef
On Friday, July
15, in the throes of Turkey's deep crisis which left international media
befuddled by who was truly in power, numerous Egyptian media outlets jumped the
gun in their reportage. They prematurely declared that the attempted coup had ended
in success, heralding the Turkish army's control over the country and overthrow
of President Erdogan.
Within hours of
the start of the attempted coup, these outlets exposed their un-professionalism by
falling prey to propaganda. Despite confirmed news sources proving that the
democratically-elected government remained in charge, and people taking to the
streets to support Turkish democracy, several Egyptian state-run as well as
privately owned newspapers came out on Saturday, July 16, with headlines and
front pages showing a different trajectory.
newspaper Al-Ahram main front page banner headline stated that the
Turkish Armed Forces succeeded in ousting President Erdogan. The red headline said
“The Turkish army overthrows Erdogan” and was followed by the
subhead “The armed forces seize power, declare martial law and Recep Tayyip
Al-Youm, announced in its main headline “A military coup in Turkey,” while the subhead said “The military announced it has taken over to
protect democracy and human rights, Erdogan calls on supporters to take to the
streets to safeguard legitimacy.”
Taken in this
light, Egyptian newspaper’s choice of the word “legitimacy” is a reminder of
when former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was mocked for repeating the same
word in his final late-night televised speeches when he addressed the nation
before being ousted by his army generals three years ago.
privately-owned newspapers had been faring just as badly when it came to their
lopsided coverage of the recent tectonic events in Turkey. Under the headline “The army topples Erdogan,” Al-Masry Al-Youm
newspaper seems to have duplicated Al-Ahram’s headline, however, suggesting
their similar biased ideologies.
newspapers, such as Al-Watan, not only ran the headline “The army takes over, deposes Erdogan,” its subhead also reported that
Erdogan tried to claim asylum in Germany at the height of the military coup,
citing unreliable western sources.
Unlike the other
Egyptian print media outlets that failed dismally at journalism and excelled at
propaganda, it was only the privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper that delivered
impartial and balanced coverage. It ran a headline on its front page entitled “An attempted coup in Turkey, Erdogan announces quashing it.”
Aside from printed
newspapers, the Egyptian news website Al-Youm Al-Sabea published a report
on its social media account naming “the reasons that led
to Erdogan’s fall." The most important of which was Erdogan's animosity towards
Erdogan had largely succeeded in quashing the coup, Al-Youm Al-Sabea
resorted to publishing a story that claimed the coup was merely an “epic theatrical act” put on by Erdogan himself.
“A REVOLUTION, NOT A MILITARY COUP”
Anyone who casually
swapped between Egyptian state-run or even privately-owned channels during the
chaotic early hours of Friday night knew that Erdogan's government was not in
Ahmed Moussa, one
of the most popular TV presenters in Egypt, praised the military coup and the
Turkish army, defining the events as “a revolution, not a military coup.” Moussa, who hosts a TV show
broadcast on the privately-owned channel Sada El-Balad, continued by
saying: “Erdogan spent millions of US Dollars on terrorist groups…Erdogan has
to learn a lesson: there is a difference between the coup in Turkey and the
revolution in Egypt. He (Erdogan) relentlessly tried to label Egypt’s events on
June 30 as a coup.”
However, as the
events unfolded, Moussa shifted to describe the botched coup as an “ousting
trial”, hoping that by the end of his TV show, the military coup in Turkey would
Egyptian media personality Khairy Ramadan, who hosts a talk show on the
privately-owned TV channel CBC
described Turkish military action as a "revolution” and “retaliation” against Erdogan’s policy towards Egypt after the June
30 revolution and the overthrow of the former Islamist President Mohamed
talk-show host Osama Kamal first mocked Erdogan for appearing on CNN-Turk television, holding an interview via mobile phone during
the early hours of the military movement. Then, adopting the same strategy of
the news website Al-Youm Al-Sabea, Kamal claimed that Erdogan
might have “staged” Friday’s bloody coup to win
people’s sympathy and regain his popularity among Turkish citizens which had recently
other Egyptian media figures avowedly voiced their opinions in the early hours
of Turkey’s attempted coup via their social network accounts, especially
journalist and Egyptian MP Mostafa Bakry wrote
on Twitter: “The Turkish army declares seizing power. Go to hell Erdogan.” He
even wrote another controversial tweet: “Erdogan
has gone and [President Bashar] al-Assad remains. Long live the Syrian Arab
Army. Erdogan must be trialed as a war criminal."
well-known TV anchor Youssef El Hosiny was gloating over Erdogan’s fall by
writing a tweet: “These terms will be circulated worldwide to describe what had
happened in Turkey: power transfer, restoring constitutional legitimacy,
toppling Erdogan, deposing the tyrant and Erdogan’s fall.”
Shortly after the army released a statement on Turkish TV
channels of seizing power, the Egyptian state and privately-owned channels were
brim with news tickers such
as: “Pro-army demonstrations in Turkey, chants against Erdogan,” “Erdogan flees
to Germany, seeks safe haven for him and his family,” “Erdogan threatens to
create bloodbaths to restore power,” and the like. It was painful to see.
President Mubarak's era, journalists were divided into two camps: with
the president or the opposition.
Egyptian journalists and media figures are siding with the military government.
This trend explains why Egyptian media swerved sharply to welcoming,
unabashedly, the Turkish military coup, let alone prematurely hailing Erdogan’s
Tensions between Egypt and Turkey sparked after the
overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Since then, the
Turkish President, who was an avid supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and
Morsi, has been harshly condemning Egypt’s military government. He was even
seen flashing the four-finger Rabaa sign during several public speeches. Moreover,
many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders found sanctuary in Turkey after
fleeing from the bloody crackdown in Rabaa and Nahda.
between the two Middle Eastern countries reached a crescendo when Egypt
objected to a United Nations Security Council statement that urged all parties to "respect
the democratically elected government of Turkey." Egypt sees that the
council is "in no position to qualify or label that government - or any
other government for that matter - as democratically elected or not,"
according to UN diplomats.
On the other hand,
Erdogan excoriated President Sisi on his latest TV interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that he “has nothing to do with democracy. He killed thousands of his people."
In conclusion, one
could say that the antagonism between Egypt and Turkey will not come to an end
anytime soon, especially when both Sisi and Erdogan are still in power, and Egypt’s
media seems to be happy to play along with these political games.