By Idris Okuyucu and Dilsad Seyfeddin
SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq (AA) - Turkey’s desire and effort to serve the Islamic and Arab world have helped all sides, a prominent Muslim scholar told Anadolu Agency Thursday.
Ali Muhiuddin Al-Qaradaghi, secretary general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, spoke to Anadolu Agency at the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) office in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq about Turkey's momentum, European countries' double standards, and the future of Sunnis in Iraq.
Saying that the constitutional changes facing a referendum this Sunday will give Turkey a boost, he stressed that the Turkish people made the right decision over the last 15 years under Justice and Development (AK) Party rule.
"Amending the Constitution is vital -- especially nowadays -- this move will be very useful for Turkey," he argued.
On Sunday, Turkish voters will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article constitutional reform bill which would shift the country from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential one.
The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling AK Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has argued against the changes.
Underlining that Turkey has made significant progress over the last 15 years despite the limitations of the current parliamentary system, Al-Qaradaghi said: "Turkey's ruling AK Party has achieved significant success in the economy and social development. If the proposed plans are put into practice, Turkey will gain great momentum."
Asserting that Turkey gaining strength is a huge win for the Islamic world, he continued: "Turkey is not competing with anyone to be the leading figure of the Islamic or Arab world -- on the contrary, Turkey wants to serve them. Both sides could benefit from a strong Turkey. So long as Turkey is strong, fair, and equal, it can offer tremendous services to both itself and the Islamic world. It can even serve as a model for the Islamic world or even Western countries. The Islamic world may also play an important role in this empowerment."
- Europe’s anti-Turkey policies
Turning to recent controversial moves by European countries to block Turkish government ministers from campaigning on their soil ahead of the referendum, Al-Qaradaghi said, "The harsh reaction Turkish citizens experienced in the Netherlands wasn’t deserved at all. The ruling party in the Netherlands was trying to attract more votes" ahead of its elections last month.
"In Europe, where democracy, expression, and individual freedom exist, it should be perfectly normal to conduct a political campaign that is in line with the rules," he continued, criticizing the Dutch action blocking Yes campaigners from holding rallies.
Turning to Germany, Al-Qaradaghi said: "Turkey was very helpful to Germany during World Wars I and II, even Germany doesn’t hide that Turkey has contributed to their history.”
"But their [EU countries] reaction isn’t equal; it depends on whether the issue is related to Muslims or Jews and Christians," he added.
On how the Muslim world can overcome double standards, he said, "We need to improve ourselves more in the fields of technology, industry, the global economy, and such fields; we should look forward and not depend on them."
- Sunnis In Iraq
The leading scholar warned that unless the Sunni people, who have suffered the most under the terrorist organization Daesh in Iraq, act together, they may face great dangers.
Emphasizing that Iraq has been going through a dangerous process, he concluded, "The sectarian conflict is at its peak now, various countries are looking forward to grabbing the wealth here, so followers of the Sunnah, Kurds, and Arabs have to come together and put forth a proper project. If not, the future of Iraq will not be bright”.