In Turkey, a new minister of justice has been appointed by a presidential decree on Friday night, replacing Abdulhamit Gül with Bekir Bozdağ, an MP for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former justice minister.
Gül had been appointed as minister in July 2017 when he was serving as the general secretary of the AKP.
His replacement has come at a time when Turkey is already engaged in a stressful election atmosphere and a constitutional trial of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) pending. Additionally, an already highly politicised judiciary may be involved in legal cases against both the HDP and the main opposition.
The HDP was recently given 30 days to prepare a defence on the 20th of January. The Turkish Constitutional Court’s decision regarding the indictment calling for the party’s dissolution will be made by a two-thirds majority vote by the judges after the defence has been heard.
The appointment of Bozdağ as the new justice minister has been met with strong reactions on social media after a video of him praising Fethullah Gülen, declared a terrorist after the coup attempt in July 2016, went viral.
In the video, Bozdağ said:
“Fethullah Gülen is a distinguished person raised in this country. You may like him or not, but he’s a distinguished and wise person. He’s doing his best to contribute to the education of new generations who have respect for the national and spiritual values of this country.”