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30 Ocak 2015 Cuma

The Quranic References of Human Rights Organizations

The Quranic References of Human Rights Organizations in Turkey
The problems such as the Kurdish Matter, racism and head-covering ban in Turkey continue, although they weaken. There are two Turkish country-wide human rights organizations that have the Quranic references trying to give an affirmative contribution in solving these problems: Özgür-Der and Mazlum-Der.
In this paper, we will try to examine the Quranic references of the human rights organizations we have mentioned above by considering their direct or indirect activists' expressions in their conferences, seminars, articles, books, journals etc. Our aim is to make clear both organizations' Quranic references in their human rights struggle and contribute comparative studies in this field.
Human rights, freedom, Quran, democratic initiation, identity

Human rights are based on the view that all people are born equal and free from the aspcet of rights and respect. Additionally, they also provide human being free choice and facility to improve her/his abilities. These freedoms are balanced with the obligation of being respectful to the other and staying away from trespassing the other’s rights. So, the rights cannot be considered free from responsibilities.
It can be said that in Turkey human rights struggle is available both in harmony with the Western point of view and also the Quranic references. The topic of our paper is limited with the latter. In this context, two country-wide human rights organizations loom large: Özgür-Der (http://www.ozgurder.org/v2/index.php) and –in its initial phase- Mazlum-Der (http://www.Mazlum-Der.org/ing/). In this paper, in the context of the questions below, the Quranic references of the ones who were/are the president, executive committee member of both will be discussed: How do both organizations consider their own country and the regime in Turkey when they struggle for human rights? Which Quranic references do they use when they determine their position and stand against human rights violations? Are they open to cooperation with the other human rights organizations which don’t prefer the Quranic references? What do they think about the heated debate of Turkiye i.e. the Kurdish Matter? Do both only defend Muslims’ rights? What is the upper identity envisaged by the Quran according to both?

A.                Approaches to the Concept of Human Rights

According to Hamza Türkmen saying that “The first word ‘La’ in ‘La ilaha illallah’ (There is no god but Allah) points Muslims’ responsibility of standing against every kind of jahiliyah (ignorance), oppression, paganism, exploitism and transgression.” (Türkmen, 2006a, p. 8.) there are –among Muslim circles- four approaches to the human rights in Turkey:
1) “Human rights is a Western and secular concept and cannot be used.” According to this approach which incorporates anti-West point of view, human rights struggle of the West is nothing but a deceit and initiation of liberalism as well (O’Sullivan, 2006, p. 202). The theoretical explanation of this approach –yet they differ among each other- has been done by generally Hizb al Tahrir (Party of Liberation) (http://english.hizbuttahrir.org/), Salafi groups and the circle of Iktibas journal (http://www.iktibasdergisi.com/).
2) “The concept of human rights points to the universal human being gains and should not be indifferent to it.” This approach [owners], by acknowledging that this concept has Western origin, links it with natural law, tries to show the counterparts of the principles of this concept in the Muslim culture and uses The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a reference. Mazlum-Der administration, after the first presidency term, have adobted such a human rights vision which is in harmony with international standards (Hicks, 2003, pp. 108-109). However, trying to adopt universal Islamic references to a relative human rights rhetoric is an epistemologic error even it is an absence of reason (Sabet, 2006, p. 100).
3) “The rhetoric of human rights is nothing but a claim of the West. The first source of this rhetoric is Islam. This concept should be used as Human Rights in Islam”. This discourse has been brought to agenda with the book named Islam and Human Rights published by the Publishing House of Aqaba (in Turkey). That book includes the articles of some leaders of the movements and pioneers of reform in the Muslim world whom we have been familiar with since 1960s and 1970s and this rhetoric was used in Turkey with a defensive approach.
4) “Despite its insufficiency, the concept of human rights should be considered a facility to bring up the nature of the human being and society, head inclination to the truth and justice. In this context, it should be used as an alternative meaning, a seek for the right and just.” Some and the line of Özgür-Der trying to understand the concept of human rights available in the Western paradigm act in harmony with this alternative approach (Türkmen, 2006a, pp. 6-7.) and the right thing to do is to consider the human rights struggle as a facility to use as an intrasystem means (Şekerci, 2004, p. 72).
As we understand from Türkmen’s categorization and preference, he accepts that this concept is Western one but should not be disregarded. On the contrary, it should be perceived from the Quranic point of view. Özgür-Der does the same, too.

B.                Democratic Initiation Policies and Relations with the System

“Democratic initiation process” has been begun by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The purpose is to make a distinct progress in the field of human rights, democracy and freedoms. The other name of this project is National Unity and Brotherhood. The name of the project can be “democratic initiation”. Yet, every kind of initiation is an improvement towards human nature if it is in harmony with right and justice. The approach of “Whether the state is Islamic or not… Muslims must support the equality among peoples.” is right and it is an attittude to revitalize “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Baqara 2/256) or, “To you is your religion, and to me my religion.” (Kafirun 109/6) principles (Türkmen, 2009, p. 211). If an initiation is right, whether the aim is religious or not, it is not meaningful to deal with it at arm’s length. For example, the concept of “freedom” which is formalized out of a religious content has not been sent to us via Quran but it can be considered in the category of the concepts produced by regarding the Quranic framework (Türkmen, 2007, p. 50).
There are three approaches among Muslim circles to the democratic initiation and Kemalist subversive status quo:
1)                  The ones saying that “The circles against Kemalist status quo are my comrades.” and becoming united with them and keeping away from their independent and consultative identitiy.
2)                 In order not to be deceived by the saying “The circles against Kemalist status quo are my comrades.”, the ones postponing the struggle against the oppressors to the future and trying to stand against both side.
3)                 The ones standing against Kemalist status quo, encouraging the affirmative sides and criticising the negative sides of the ones/circles (conservative democrats, liberals, republicanists who give priority to democracy i.e. Second Republicanists etc.) and maintaining their consultative Islamic identity (Türkmen, 2010, p. 40).
The true way must be the third for the Quran disciples and followers trying to change the social life in an affirmative way. Without hiding their identity or covering the versus of the Quran, these circles supporting the monotheistic (tawhidi) awakening process in Turkey regard their struggle which they have been knitting item by item against the system as getting back their usurped rights. They try to be just against the ones not fighting with Muslims because of religious reasons, not banishing Muslims, not helping the people(s) trying to banish Muslims and not banning Muslims (Türkmen, 2010, p. 40). Also, considering the principle “To you is your religion, and to me, my religion.” (Kafirun 109/6), we can say that the Quran gives everybody the right to identify her/himself. If it is so, Muslims want to express themselves with their own identity (Türkmen, 2009, p. 83). When determining the matters of the age, it is possible to meet on a common denominator with ideological movements such as feminism, socialism etc. at times. Even in some cases, similar solutions can be offered. This position doesn’t harm Muslim identity. Common action with different ideological movements at times brings no problem for any circle trusting its own principles and perspective (Şekerci, 2011, p. 189). If the human rights are objective, that is to say if they are regarded as legal struggle and realised, the other organisations, which have been supported and encouraged before, will be treated in the same way (Quoting from Yılmaz Ensaroğlu Hicks, 2003, p. 109).
As it is clear, Özgür-Der and Mazlum-Der don’t disregard just attitudes concerning Muslims or non-Muslims even support them. One difference between them is that, the previous one strives to keep its independent identitiy. As a matter of fact, the Quran categorizes the attitudes against tawhid (monotheism) and paganism. For example, the Quran accepts the identities of being infidel, hypocrites, idolater and Ahl al Kitap. Even it tells us about the subcategories of some of them. The Quranic consideration of “Christians’ closeness to Muslims” (Maeda 5/82) can be mentioned here (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, p. 115). The Quran’s attitude of categorization of the peoples is related to the reality of human being and society. Differences of the people and the societies they formed, make generalization and standard approaches impossible in society categorizations. We see in the Quran different stages of being Muslim as well (Waqia 56/8, 10).
Özgür-Der is not indifferent to the democratic initiatitive brought forward by the government aiming at progressing in human rights. Even being sensitive to it is an obligation ordered by wahy (the Quran). In this discussion agenda, the verse in the chapter Mumtahina, “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just.” (Mumtahina 60/8) is one of the main criteria of Muslims leading them to behave careful/moderate and responsible (Türkmen, 2010, pp. 39-40). The Quran shows us that the prophets preach –in the context of their struggle- the leaders of the arrogant party of their society (Araf 7/60, 66, 75, 90) and they, together with the believers, have a method and a sense of winning nonbelievers’ hearts. For example, it tells us that Muhammed (pbuh) may torment himself as they don’t believe (Shuara 26/3). Additionally, Allah orders (Moses) to preach Pharaoh in a soft way (Taha 20/44). It is seen in the Quran that the prophets give advice to their societies with a tone of benevolent “O my people!” (Maeda 5/20, 21; Anaam 6/78) and want their people to come to the true path in order to save them from God’s wrath (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, pp. 121-122; Maryam 19/41-46; Araf 7/59, 65, 73, 85). The obligation of being sensitive and careful in social relationships is a Quranic order. The verse “Don’t let hatred of any people seduce you that you don’t deal justly.” (Maeda 5/8) as a Muslim attitude, enlightens the way of Muslims in social relationships (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, p. 122).
Özgür-Der globally tries to realise justice by keeping its identity. In this context, the good deeds of the ones who don’t regard the Quranic criteria can be rejoicing but it is not enough to “integrate” with them. The conscious of being ummah is to be kept. For example the Quran says, “The Romans have been defeated. In the nearer land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious. Within ten years Allah's is the command in the former case and in the latter and in that day believers will rejoice.” (Rum 30/2-3). The victory of Rums over Sassanids had been considered by Muslims. Yet the mission of today’s Muslims is not to join the Rums’ army but form a society of God’s witnesses against liberal or fascist sieges. For that purpose, Muslims should build their monotheistic identity against global capitalism, make their own ark like Noah against strong storms i.e. the aim of reaching “the level of contemporary civilization” (Türkmen, 2010, p. 52). The example of risalah, As it is seen (above) in the case of Muslims who are interested in what happens around them (Rum-Sassanid war) even they are a small group, should widen Muslims’ horizons from the aspect of finding out the problems and facilities of Muslims in different regions and cooperating with them. Islamic movements sharing many common truth have proved that the monotheistic awareness cannot be limited with wire meshes. The next one is to surpass the artificial and stumbling blocks (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, p. 85).
In the context of saving the identity Özgür-Der, doesn’t consider its relations with “the system which doesn’t define itself as Islamic” theological matter. The Quranic verse in the paragraph above, which is mentioned in the context of human rights struggle in the borders of the country and on a global scale, has also been mentioned in terms of the relationship with the system. The Quran disciples, who don’t consider voting in the elections in a jahili (ignorant) regime basic theological choice related with the life or identity, discuss this matter with the chapter Rum. Why didn’t a small group of Muslims who struggled for presence by refusing any kind of oppression and paganism rejoice when the jahili army of Romans were defeated? And again why would they rejoice when Romans defeat their enemy? Do the first verses of the chapter of Rum express an escape from the more oppressive army (Sassanids) or an inclination to Romans considered Ahl al Kitab? Of course it is an escape from the oppression which is much greater. We learn from the chapter Rum that the first nucleus of Muslims in Mecca are on the side of the makeshift when considering the outer conditions. Preferring the makeshift can be regarded as an escape not an inclination. For example, the ones punished legally because of their identity in Turkey haven’t taken refuge in despotic regimes (where their subjects are mostly Muslims) named kingdom or republic but democratic states in Europe. Nevertheless, there is another fact we learnt when we examine the period of Mecca: none of the sahabah (comrades of the prophet) tried to join the Roman Army by leaving the struggle including a hard test in Mecca (Türkmen, 2010, p. 158).
In order to witness an authentic Islamic struggle, in approaching intrasystem means and in discussions on voting, first of all it is necessary to have consensus on the basic principles defined by Muslim belief. The most important responsibilities in the framework of faith-based method and principles are not to cover the versus of Allah, not postponing the life in harmony with revelation. Also the Quranic parable of “And a believing man of Pharaoh's family, who hid his faith” (Mu’min 40/28) symbolising real hardships should not be taken out of its specific context and generalized (Türkmen, 2010, p. 158). For a revelation-based policy, the struggle done by adopting anti-revelation rules and principles cannot be considered gradualism or stage-centered from the aspect of Islamic method. Bearing this impurity cannot be regarded in the framework of taqıyya. The taqıyya, in terms of the attitude and behavior mentioned in the Quran as a permission, is not related with a movement dependent on Islamic method in general but related with some persons’ specific cases (Türkmen, 2010, s. 160) such as “Except for those who were forced to engage in infidelity to Allah after believing while their hearts remained firmly convinced of their belief.” (Nahl 16/106).
The quantitative weakness of Muslims in the beginning of the Islamic community formation (Enfal 8/26) can cause the circles in power to make them inefficient and these people can make the masses behave Muslims’ message uncompanionably. The process of Islamic struggle is full of hardships and tests. However, Muslims must resist any kind of difficulties and oppression and gain their struggle with the efforts which they will increase in an awareness of servitude (Muhammad 47/31). Islamic struggle can be gained in the field of struggle not in the idea clubs, places producing abstract thoughts or in circles far from practical concerns. As long as Muslims embrace Allah and His Book by thinking properly He will enlighten their way (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, pp. 94-95; Nisa 4/175).
The basic matter of Turkey is Kurdish issue. It is assumed that this matter has been caused by secular nationalistic thought which is considered one of the heresies of infidels (Beyazyüz, 2006, p. 303). Additionally, this matter has got historical, political and social dimensions. The conflict, which continues because it has not been solved yet, not only consumes the country’s resources but also hampers the economic, political, social, cultural improvement of the country. This is a matter transferred from the Ottoman State to the Turkish Republic. The concept of millah (ملة), which always means “religion” in the Quran as it is in the expression of milla İbrahim (ملة إبراهيم) in the process of Ottomanism beginning with Tanzimat Fermanı (1839) (Imperial Edict of Reorganization) and later Turkish nationalization, unfortunately has been used in the meaning of nation. And because of conceptual deviations and breaks Muslims stayed far away from understanding each other (Türkmen, 2006b, pp. 268-269). Namely, deviation of a Quranic concept caused miscommunication between Turkish and Kurdish people and with this deviation Muslim mind confused and divided.
As in the “Kurdish Initiation”, the effort of Turkey to humanize its system is desirable. However, Muslims must spend their time in warning the society and themselves personally and rebuilding themselves in the axis of wahy (the Quran) instead of spending most of their time for such improvements in a jahili (ignorant) system excludes the society and state of the Quran. If the system rolls back down its tyranny in the face of Muslims warnings, they are pleased with it as they admire Ahl al Kitab who don’t betray custody (Al-i Imran 3/75). They see all the improvements based on right and justice in the jahili (ignorant) system as benefit (Türkmen, 2009, p. 71). Muslims’ emphasis on “No division of umma” in the context of challenging Kurdish nationalism without opposing Turkish nationalism loses its moral basis when the agenda is to obtain Kurdish people’s rights. It is sensed that Muslim umma is often mingled with national borderlines. So what Muslim umma is, what its function is and will be in the short, middle and long terms must be explained (Yılmaz, 2006, p. 107).
Universal thinking necessitates to have a long term strategy. Muslims cannot handle the stumbling blocks made by the Western imperialism without the items of Muslim umma differentiated, transforming radically the societies they live in and again without shaking comprador regimes which Muslims are (forcefully) obliged to obey. So Muslims should concentrate their power on their neighborhood while considering gains of universal Islamic struggle. Warning mission should start from close neighborhood (Shuara 26/214). As the aim of their struggle, they should have an effort to show their testimony primarily to the people around them not to ones who are difficult to reach (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, pp. 85-86).

C.                                        The Upper Identity Described in the Quran

The concept of Kurdish people or Kurdish identity should be used in the context of qawm (people) or qabila (tribe) not race or nation. As a matter of fact, Muslims should perceive the concept of “qhalq” (creation), depending on God’s wisdom of creating and by pointing to the language and colours of the people, as categorizing social Godly signs (Hujurat 49/13) such as qawm, qabail and shuub (Türkmen, 2006b, p. 269). Such categories cannot determine final social identity of Muslims. The Quran presents Allah's prophet (pbuh) and jihad (show effort) for the path of Allah as a dependency more precious and higher than those in question (Tauba 9/24). The differences of qabila, shu’ba, colour and language were created for people to know each other as signs of Allah but not as a cause to fight or dominate. These differences are just like the differences of our fingerprints, faces and other features of our creation. These are the features of our identity. The upper identity is for human being to define her/himself with her/his worldly and ethereal life identity (Kavuncu, 2006, p. 169).
When establishing the Republic of Turkey the aim was a mono-cultural, monolingual, one-nation and a unitary state. The efforts/projects to make the society by force and imposition one colour, expectedly caused a religion matter as well as an ethnic and tribal one (Sevim, 2006, p. 113). However, the Quran presents the existance of nations as a facility to increase communication (Hujurat 49/13), and their languages as a means for understanding each other and preaching (Ibrahim 14/4; Rum 30/22). The important one is not inborn differences but to perceive the aim of the life together with these differences. Nations should create a lifestyle in accordance with God’s wish by grasping together Allah’s rope (Al-i Imran 3/103). The superiority must be in obeying (taqwa) God. The landing mark among the international relations should be this. To regard his/herself superior to the other because of his/her language, colour, nation is to transgress the limits of Allah. It is the same for the nations (Türkmen, 2009, p. 124). Different social features of people should be perceived a variety considered proper by Allah (Rum 30/22). There is a parallel between the people’s having the same features (fitrah) (Rum 30/30) and basically the sameness of the Books (inspired by Allah) (Shura 42/13). Similarly, social features which can be described as cultural variety reflect the difference in the features of making the wahy (the Quran) reach the people (Toplu Çalışma, 1996, pp. 113-114; Maeda 5/48).
The expression in the verse accepting that the presence of the nations as a reality (Hujurat 49/13) you may know one another (لتعارفرا) means acquaintance. In this context, the Quran doesn’t define the differences as a means for a group of people to dominate another one (Şekerci, 2011, p. 192). The expression in question incorporates showing respect each other as well. With this context, the necessary value should be given to the nations properly, an Islamic system should be established open to the cooperation of the peoples having equal rights, making consultation (shura) principle (Shura 42/38 ) operational, rendering back the trusts to those to whom they are due (Nisa 4/58) and justly governing. In such a system of justice; with Allah's grant, all ethnic problems and fights will end with a radical way, when facilities are given to the local initiatives and when Islamic identity (which is common and honourable) is accepted as upper identity of all peoples (Pamak, 2006, p. 64). As a matter of fact, the only thing to put a difference among each people and making superior is “belief”: “Do not, then, either lose heart or grieve: for you shall surely gain the upper hand if you are true men of faith.” (Al-i Imran 3/139) The only superiority criterion among Muslims who are as equal as comb teeth is piousness which cannot be determined but by the Creator (Hujurat 49/13). Anyway, the human being is responsible for her/his intentional preference and behaviour, not for her/his given features such as colour, mother tongue etc. (Eğilli, 2006, pp. 235-236).
To be a member of a family, tribe (ashira), clan (qabilah), nation (qawm), shu’ba (people) individually or collectively cannot be an upper identity for Muslims. Making these identities a means for competition, fight or superiority against each other is called in Islamic culture “asabiyah.” Asabiyah is egoism which is not individual. It is a consideration of the interest of a social category against other categories. However, there is no superiority of a group to the others (Hujurat 49/13). The basis of modern nationalism is the asabiyah prohibited by Islam. Jahili societies get their enthusiasm, speed and power from a variety of national-tribal asabiyahs. The Quran defines this situation as hamiya al jahiliya (fanatical rage of ignorance): “(This is why) when the unbelievers set in their hearts a fierce bigotry, the bigotry of ignorance Allah bestowed inner peace upon His Messenger and upon the believers and made the word of piety binding on them. They were more deserving and worthier thereof. Allah has knowledge of everything.” (Fath 48/26) Our affiliation to a variety of social units is natural and legitimate but regarding a fight and a struggle for superiority among these units i.e. the acceptance of them as social/universal/ethereal identity is prohibited (Kavuncu, 2006, p. 169-170).
It is informed (in the Quran) that in this world, Muslims preferring Allah, His prophet and jihad in His path form an ummah (Maeda 5/56; Mücadele 22). Almighty God directly prescribes that “Strive in the cause of Allah in a manner worthy of that striving. He has chosen you (for His task), and He has not laid upon you any hardship in religion. Keep to the faith of your father Abraham. Allah named you Muslims earlier and even in this (Book), that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and that you may be witnesses over all mankind. So establish Prayer, and pay Zakah, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector. What an excellent Protector; what an excellent Helper!” (Hajj 22/77-78). So the only valid, legal identity for Muslims is the name of “Muslim.” (Kavuncu, 2006, p. 170).
If the freedom of people is provided and they are invited to the tawhid belief (the uniqueness of God) by Muslims for the sake of Allah and with a struggle which is full of consciousness of worshipping and sincerity and again if the society (in Turkey) formed by Kurds, Turks, Arabs etc. establish monotheistic concepts, criteria, value and moral norms instead of supersititions by accepting the invitation in question i.e. if it shows the will to change what is available in its essence on a right path towards the Light, then Allah will fulfill His promise and realise Islamic justice system. Briefly in the Quran, Allah gives the good news of the revolution of tawhid and justice against the system of paganism and opression if Muslims believe in and do good deeds, perform their worshipping obligations through big efforts for example reading, understanding and preaching the Quran and living in harmony with it, and again if they do what they must do in this struggle in cooperation and solidarity and within alliance against the oppressors in order to get their rights and freedoms then (Pamak, 2006, pp. 65-66) “And soon will the unjust assailants know what vicissitudes their affairs will take!” (Shuara 26/227). Namely, the way of success aganist the oppressors, it doesn’t matter whatever ethnic root is theirs, is the peoples’ struggle of tawhid and justice. With the help of Allah, the authority of the ones violating human rights will come to an end.


In Turkey, the human rights organizations, which have Quranic references, consider their struggle one of the orders of Islam. While acknowledging the Western framework of this concept, they put forward their reservations to it. Although they keep their reservations against the system in Turkey, they have been supporting its right efforts considered by them in the context of removing the oppression. While determining their position and presenting solutions to the ethnic matters, they loom large the Quran albeit at different rates. During their struggle, they don’t consider “the other” as a whole group and they keep their doors open to the activist groups who don’t accept the Quran as their reference but maintaining their struggle regarding their own criteria. Two country-wide organizations we have discussed are encouraging examples of supporting human rights together with secular human rights organizations. Both have a remarkable struggle in the field of freedom of belief and especially head-covering ban as well. A study on this subject will help to understand the change in Turkey better, too.


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Internet resources

Yazı Künyesi!Kayacan, Murat, "Quranic References of the Human Rights Organizations in Turkey", Civil Society and Change in the Middle East, Institute of Strategic Thinking (SDE), Ankara, 2013. (161-174).
The Quranic References of Human Rights Organizations
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