Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested yesterday that a wise ruler is more important than the rule of law, by way of an aphorism in which he clearly cast himself as that wise ruler. The Hurriyet Daily News reports:
His remarks came as he was arguing how certain court rulings are almost like “treason” against the country, citing a ruling by the Council of State concerning Istanbul’s Salıpazarı Port Area project, commonly known as Galataport.“However, there is a beautiful saying that some attribute to Confucius, while others attribute to [Islamic caliph] Omar: ‘No matter how bad laws are, if they are held by a just sultan then they lead to fine results; no matter how good the laws are, if they are held by a brutal sultan then they lead to injustice.’ Here, we see the same thing,” Erdoğan said.
This line of reasoning has been the pillar of absolute monarchs and despots for centuries, and those who worry about Erdogan, as we do, will view his embrace of it warily. Erdogan, incidentally, is putting the finishing touches on a palace for himself that even a sultan might consider too gaudy.