Political unrest and terrorism is causing problems for Turkey’s ruling party, which has staved off coup attempts as well as judicial efforts to remove it from power.
Turkey’s highest court decided not to ban the government’s ruling party Wednesday for allegedly attempting to establish Islamist rule in country, the Turkish Press reported.
The courts deliberations on the conduct of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) began Monday on the heels of a terrorist bombing in Istanbul that left 17 dead and hundreds more injured, al-Jazeera reported.
The case highlights the schism between secular groups in Turkey and the ruling AKP, which draw support from devout Muslims with ties to the country’s Islamist movement.
The party is accused of trying to introduce non-secular rule in Turkey while in power, a charge AKP officials denied.
In March, prosecutors asked the court to ban Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and 70 members of the AKP from politics for five years, al-Jazeera reported.
President Abdullah Gul was also implicated on the prosecutor’s list.
Erdogan admitted to the Turkish Daily News that his party has made mistakes, but called for national unity in the wake of the court’s deliberations.
The Turkish Press reported that the court has the option of cutting the party’s election funding instead of banning it.
Several observers have told al-Jazeera that a ban could have created political chaos as well as spurred new elections.
It would not have been the only political party outlawed: Courts have banned two dozen others since 1963.
The European Union condemned a potential ban as an “undemocratic” move that would jeopardize Turkey’s bid to join its ranks, reports The Guardian.
Turkey’s struggles with religion and politics also have prompted not just court battles, but also fears of a coup.
Last week, 86 militant secularists were indicted for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, according to The Guardian.
Another 26 people were arrested for a plotting a secularist coup, al-Jazeera reported, and in early July two senior retired generals, leading businessmen and journalists, were also arrested.
Last year, an attempt to lift a decades-old ban on wearing headscarves at universities was overturned by the courts for being anti-secular.
Turkey’s elected government has been unseated by a military coup four times in the last 50 years.
Sunday’s bombings are being blamed on Kurdish rebels, although its timing with regards to the courts deliberations is troubling, one newspaper editor said.
“We hope there isn’t a link but there seems to be a very big chaotic atmosphere in Turkey,” Ilnur Cevik, editor-in-chief of the New Anatolan, told al-Jazeera.
— John Hornberg/Newsdesk.org
“Court convenes on AKP ban case”
Al-Jazeera, July 28, 2008
“Judges meet to decide on AKP’s fate”
Turkish Daily News, July 28, 2008
“Istanbul rocked by bomb attacks”
The Guardian, July 28, 2008
“Death toll in Istanbul bomb attack rises to 17”
Irish Times, July 28, 2008
“Islam: Secularists raise tension as Turkish court prepares landmark judgment on ruling AKP”
The Guardian, July 28, 2008
Turkey detains 26 over ‘coup plot’
Al-Jazeera, July 24, 2008
“Turkey’s Top Court Concludes First Day Hearing Of Ruling Party Closure Case”
Turkish Press, July 28, 2008
“Turkey’s ruling party hails court ruling as victory for democracy”
Turkish Press, July 30, 2008