Five members of Turkey’s top administrative court, the Council of State, were shot by a suspected Islamic extremist during a court session in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin died while the four other judges were wounded.
The gunman has been identified as Alparslan Arslan, a Turkish lawyer. “He reportedly said he was there to punish the court members for their verdicts on the head scarf cases,” said Tansel Colasan, deputy head of the Council of State. The judges targeted in the attack had previously made a ruling barring the promotion of an elementary school teacher for wearing an Islamic headscarf outside the workplace.
“This massacre attempt is directed against the secular [Turkish] republic,” said Sumru Cortoglu, the Council of State chairwoman, “this attack will not intimidate us.” Tens of thousands marched in Ankara to protest the attack. “Pressure and threats will not defeat Turkish justice,” said Turkey’s President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the attack “was a tragedy”:
“It is something that we condemn. Our thoughts are certainly with those who were victims in this attack and certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the Turkish people right now.”
After a meeting in April with Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “Turkey is a very good example, that there is no conflict between Islam and democracy, that in fact the values of democracy and freedom are very deep here [in Turkey].” Secretary of State Rice said that in Turkey, “People practice their faith, but they also practice their political freedoms.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.