Turkish court and ministry spar over lighting tweet

A man waves a Turkish flag outside the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, one of Istanbul's main tourist attractions in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. (AP)
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Updated 15 October 2020

Turkish court and ministry spar over lighting tweet

  • The decisions of Turkey’s top court were long annoying the government and its nationalistic alliance partner: Berk Esen, A political expert

ANKARA: A dispute between Turkish state apparatus heated up on Tuesday night after a Twitter spat about who worked harder at night.

The fresh debate was triggered after a tweet from a Constitutional Court member, Engin Yildirim, who shared a photograph of the building and said: “The lights are on.”

The tweet quickly came to the attention of pro-government media and government authorities, who accused the judge of “implying a coup attempt,” a reference to a failed putsch from July 2016.

Not to be outdone, the Ministry of Interior tweeted a photograph of its building with the caption: “Our lights never go off.”

“Those who assumed the duty of those who greeted putschists in the past by saying ‘the lights of the General Staff are on’ should not wait even for a second to resign!” the deputy interior minister tweeted, suggesting that journalists had always previously checked the General Staff building’s lights at night for signs that a coup was being prepared.

The judge later deleted his tweet.

The Constitutional Court held an unscheduled meeting on Wednesday, releasing a statement afterwards saying that it opposed all kinds of anti-democratic interventions that undermined constitutional order.

Berk Esen, a political scientist from Sabanci University in Istanbul, said the row between the court and the ministry was worrying and that he was concerned about the possible negative ramifications in the weeks ahead.

“For many, the lights don’t matter if justice and the rule of law are already under darkness for a longtime,” he told Arab News. “The decisions of Turkey’s top court were long annoying the government and its nationalistic alliance partner which was even urging for reshaping the court ‘in line with the presidential system.’” 

A series of Constitutional Court actions have upset the ministry which, in turn, has pushed back and tried to cut the institution down to size.

Esen said that if the top court’s decisions were no longer recognized, there would be no legal body left to stop an arbitrary interpretation of Turkey’s constitution.

“In the past, the Constitutional Court did not take the necessary steps to prevent autocratization in the country and ratified many articles that undermined the democratic regime, including some presidential decrees.

It failed to serve as a check on the presidency’s growing control over the political system, so they share some blame for Turkey’s democratic backsliding,” he added.


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

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Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.