Thursday, April 03, 2008

Turkey’s AK Party Accused of Undermining the Secular State

VOICE OF AMERICA: Turkey's ruling AK party is facing the prospect of closure, after the country's Constitutional Court agreed to hear a case accusing it of undermining secularism. The prime minister and president also face a five-year political ban. The case, as Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul, has plunged the country into a political crisis.

Constitutional Court Deputy Chairman Court Osman Paksut announced the high court would hear the case against the ruling Justice and Development Party.

The AK party, as it is known in Turkey, is accused of undermining the secular state. If the prosecutor wins the case, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul along with 69 other members of the ruling party face a five-year political ban.

In last year's general election, the party with Islamic roots won nearly two-thirds of the seats in parliament with 47 percent of the vote.

Some political observers say that following his recent victory, Prime Minister Erdogan abandoned the conciliatory approach to the divisive issue of religion, which characterized his previous administration.

"With that 47 percent, he thinks he can rule the world," said Ppolitical [sic] columnist Murat Yetkin. Court Case Against Ruling Party Divides Turks >>> By Dorian Jones, Istanbul | April 2, 2008

Mark Alexander