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Why could a Christian not change his name?

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Why could a Christian not change his name?

Oct-07-2011 at 09:10 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Why could a Christian not change his name?

by Orhan Kemal Cengiz (o.cengiz < a t> October 4, 2011.

If you want to change your first name or last name in Turkey, you have to apply to court.

Favlus Ay, an Assyrian who is a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, applied to court to change his full name to Paulus Bartuma. The case was forwarded to the constitutional court. The constitutional court made a decision of which every Turkish citizen should be ashamed in its ruling that this change of name ran contrary to the legislation in effect.

Our constitutional court concluded that citizens of the Republic of Turkey are not allowed to take the names attributable to foreign races or nations. This decision, made last July, is so ridiculous that it is impossible to make a legal analysis. We can evaluate this decision only to obtain a better understanding of the way the minds of the members of the constitutional court work. I will try to make this evaluation below.

However, before delving into the details to make an assessment, I would like to write a few words about the content and substance of the decision. Consider this: A Turk living in Germany applies to court to take a Turkish name; the motion is rejected. If the court underlines that German citizens may only take names attributable to the German race and nation, and if it rules that names like Ahmet or Mehmet cannot be taken, you could be sure that a huge campaign against this would be launched in Turkey. The Turkish media would have accused the judges serving in that court of fascism or exhibiting a Nazi mentality.

However, our constitutional court does not hesitate in making such a decision and bans Turkish citizens from taking names foreign to his or her own ethnic identity. The constitutional court handed down this decision by a majority vote. Eight judges challenged the stance by the other nine who ruled that Turkish citizens are not allowed to take foreign names. If you take a look at the professional backgrounds of the court judges who support and oppose the decision and who appointed them to the constitutional court, you find yourself looking at an interesting picture.

All of the nine judges who adhered to the anti-freedom interpretation are law school graduates and therefore trained lawyers, whereas only two out of the eight judges who relied on a pro-freedom interpretation and declared that the law on taking foreign names is unconstitutional graduated from law schools. The remaining six studied at schools of political science and economics. Borrowing from Althusser, I would hold that the notion of “the status-quo stance of a lawyer” fits perfectly in this picture. As a law school graduate, I am familiar with the legal training that creates this status-quo stance. Likewise, I cannot help but question the legal system through which judges and prosecutors have gone and I see that the majority of these lawyer-judges had previously served in different courts before being appointment to this one.

You would have an interesting table if you reviewed who appointed these constitutional court judges. Five out of the nine judges who ruled that the name Favlus could not be changed to Paulus were appointed by Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the remaining four by President Abdullah Gül. The eight judges who said people can take any name they want broken down by appointing president or institution is as follows: one by Turgut Özal, one by Süleyman Demirel, two by Ahmet Necdet Sezer, two by Abdullah Gül and one by the Turkish Parliament.

I think that the picture I presented above tells much about the state of democracy and the judiciary and whether the mindset of the government has really changed. In consideration of this picture, I would like to finish my column by asking some questions to the president and government who elected him: Four out of the six judges the president appointed made a decision that violates one of the most basic human rights. What criteria does the president consider when appointing judges to the constitutional court? Does the president consider the attitudes, views and decisions of the judges he appoints based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law? Does he pay attention to whether the appointed judges are mentally open to universal legal norms? If not, then what criteria does the president use in the appointment process? Maybe I should ask a question of the government as well: Do you not think that if legal training creates such an archaic legal understanding, it should be substantially changed and restructured?

To better understand how much Turkey has really changed, I think we should take a look at how much its mentality has changed. To this end, the decisions of the higher judiciary serve as a litmus tests. As you saw above, the judges appointed by both the nationalist President Necdet Sezer and the current president make similarly irrational decisions. Is it possible to argue that a Turkey in which people are unable to exercise the simple right to change their names as they like is becoming democratic?

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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