Turkey to impose 'good morals' condition for citizenship

AFP , Tuesday 25 Nov 2014

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses women in Istanbul, Turkey Nov. 24, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Turkey is seeking to toughen citizenship rules and introduce "general morality" as a condition for foreigners applying to become citizens, according to a copy of a draft bill obtained by AFP Tuesday.

The new condition is part of a controversial new homeland security reform bill set to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday that tightens the requirements to gain citizenship through marriage.

The government has already sent the bill to the 550-seat parliament, which is dominated by ruling party lawmakers who are expected to rubber stamp the legislation.

The text of the bill has yet to specify how good "general morality" will be assessed by officials processing citizenship applications.

In the past, citizenship has been granted to individuals who qualify to become Turks and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety. These conditions remain intact in the bill.

Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has repeatedly made clear it is concerned over purported moral decay in the overwhelmingly Muslim but traditional secular country.

In July, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc sparked outrage when he blamed Turkish moral decline, among other things, on women who laugh out loud in public.

The reform package also grants greater powers to the security forces after pro-Kurdish protests last month that left over 30 people dead.

Protesters will be banned from using Molotov cocktails, fireworks and similar hand-made bombs during demonstrations.

Police will be able to resort to guns to contain anyone attempting to hurl Molotov cocktails, and anyone found carrying one will face up to four years in prison.

The bill also calls for stricter punishment for offenders caught damaging public property, wearing masks to disguise their identity, as well as resisting the police.

Protesters who conceal their face during protests will face up to five years in prison, and those damaging public property will pay compensation to the state, according to the reform package.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu defended the reform bill.

"The most effective measures will be taken against vandals who exploit protests," he told AKP deputies in parliament.

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