[QODLink]
Europe
Turkey court finds AKP anti-secular
PM and key ruling party members guilty of exploiting religion for political gains.
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2008 17:52 GMT
The court has refused to bar Erdogan
from party activity [ EPA]

Turkey's constitutional court
has ruled that key members of the ruling AK Party, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, have been involved in anti-secular activities.

Friday's ruling was related to a case which sought to ban the party on charges it was seeking to throw out the country's secular system, in favour of an Islamist regime.

The judge said the AK Party carried out anti-secular activities and exploited religion for political gains.

However, he found no evidence that the AK Party was trying to incite violence and only fined the party for undermining Turkey's secular principles.

Renewed tensions

"It needs to be accepted that the party became a focus of anti-secular activities due to its move to change some articles of the Turkish constitution," the court said referring to an AK Party-driven attempt to lift a ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves at universities.

In a setback to the AK Party, the constitutional court in June overturned an amendment to lift the restriction, saying it violated Turkey's secular constitution.

The court's unexpectedly harsh criticism against Erdogan, who remains Turkey's most popular politician according to recent opinion polls, is likely to renew tensions at a time when it is fighting to limit the impact of a global financial crisis.

The court dismissed in July the prosecutor's case to have the AK Party closed down and to bar Erdogan and other leading members from party activity for five years.

The AK Party has been locked in a battle with Turkey's powerful secularist establishment, including judges and army generals, since it first came to power in 2002.

Secularists say the party is seeking to bring back religion to public life, contrary to the constitution.

The AK Party, which won a sweeping re-election last year, denies it has any Islamist agenda.

Cengiz Aktar, a journalist from the English daily newspaper, the Turkish Daily News based in Istanbul, told Al Jazeera: "It is a very interesting 772 page report, because we see that ten out of eleven judges found that the AKP party, worked against the sacrosanct principle of secularism in this country.

"But they didn't go far enough to close the party down, because they found [the AKP] did not invoke any violence to change the regime.

"They preferred rather to give a penalty to the party ... they will pay back half of their treasury aid, something like $13 million, which is not very harmful to the party.

"But is had reignited the debate on the nature of the regime and the role of the constitutional court," he said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
join our mailing list