Prosecutor moves to outlaw Turkey’s ruling party

March 15th, 2008 - 2:37 am ICT by admin  

Ankara, March 15 (DPA) Turkey’s ruling party could be closed down and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned from politics after a top prosecutor announced Friday that he had opened a case at the constitutional court to have the party banned for allegedly undermining the state’s secular nature. An indictment prepared by Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya listed a number of moves made by Erdogan’s government that he claimed to have undermined the secular state including moves to allow women to wear Islamic-style headscarves at universities, and attempts to restrict public drinking of alcohol to “red light zones”, Anadolu news agency reported.

Yalcinkaya also called for Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials to be banned from politics for five years.

“Lifting the headscarf ban will make the universities a place for religious communities, racists and separatists who against the secular and unitary structure of the state,” CNN-Turk television quoted the indictment.

“(The AKP) has become a focus for activities against secularism.”

The indictment listed a number of other moves by AKP-controlled municipalities to undermine secularism including the banning of billboards in Istanbul that featured bikini-clad models and a move by the Istanbul municipality to segregate boys and girls onto different school buses.

The indictment says that the case against the party was the precedents set when the constitutional court had outlawed the AKP’s predecessor parties.

The prime minister refused to comment on the case until he had seen the indictment while Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said the moves were an “injustice”.

“This is not just an injustice against the AKP but in my opinion a serious act of indecency against Turkey,” Gunay told reporters, adding that the case will bring instability to Turkey.

Erdogan’s AKP has fought a number of battles with hardline secularists who fear that moderate Islamist moves by the party will ultimately lead to Turkey becoming an Islamic state with sharia law.

The move to allow women to wear Islamic-style headscarves has proved to be the main focus point in the fight between secularists and the government.

Wearing of the headscarf in universities was first banned after the 1980 military coup but it was not until the late 1990s that the ban was strictly enforced. Rather than take off their head-coverings many devout Islamic women have refused to go to university and some, including Erdogan’s daughters, have studied abroad to get around the ban.

The move to allow the Islamic-style head-covering, passed by parliament last month but subject to court challenges, came after the AKP was returned to power last year in early elections that were forced following a series of spats with secularists over the nomination of Abdullah Gul, whose wife wears a headscarf, for the presidency.

The controversy over Gul’s nomination and eventual election to the presidency saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets across the country.

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