Turkish ruling party defends record

A day after narrowly escaping a ban, an AKP official says the party is not anti-secular.

    Six of the court's judges voted in favour of a ban, one short of the required seven [AFP]

    "We did not deserve to be deprived of half of the treasury funding."

    The court's decision averted political and economic chaos for the country that is vying for EU membership and came as a reprieve for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, and his allies.

    Head-scarf question

    Cemil Cicek, another AKP politician, said the party will no longer push to allow the wearing of head scarves in universities, at least for the moment.

    Cicek, who is also Turkey's deputy prime minister, said in an interview with private NTV television: The headscarf issue is not on our agenda now."

    A recent AKP attempt to allow head scarves was turned down by the same constitutional court on the grounds it was anti-secular.

    The government-backed bill to allow the garment was cited in Wednesday's ruling as proof that the AKP was trying to erode secularism.

    For his part, Erdogan assured Turks on Thursday that his government was loyal to Kemal Ataturk's principles.

    "The Turkish republic - as a democratic, secular state governed by the rule of law - will continue, without stopping, on its path towards modernity that Ataturk guided it on," he said in his monthly televised address to the nation.

    "There is no turning back."

    Intense scrutiny

    Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ankara, said that Erdogan and his party will be under intense scrutiny from now on.
    "There is every indication that the opposition - those who supported the dissolution of the AK party - will continue their battle, one needed, in their view, to protect the republic from what they see as an irreversible Islamisation," she said.
    Observers have noted that the verdict itself also failed to acquit the AK party and its leaders from accusations of anti-secular activities.
    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ilnur Cevik, a political analyst with The New Anatolian newspaper, said: "They've chosen a middle of the road which will bring some uncertainty in Turkey and that is bad.

    "In the long run, we need stability in Turkey because we are facing important foreign and economic and social issues. But with this continuing debate about whether the AK party is a fundamentalist party, it will create big problems."

    On Wednesday, six of the court's 11 judges voted in favour of closing down the party, just one short of the seven required to impose a ban.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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