03/31/2008, 00.00
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Accusation accepted: Erdogan's party is against the constitution

by Mavi Zambak
The constitutional court is giving the AKP one month to defend itself. The Islamic party in power risks isolation, and its leaders, including the president and prime minister, risk being excluded from political life for five years.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - After a four-hour session, the Turkish constitutional court has ruled by accepting the charge presented last March 14 to the Yargitay by the chief prosecutor of the republic, who denounces Erdogan's party as unconstitutional. The AKP is the moderate Islamic Justice and Development party, the majority party that won the last elections with 46.6% of the vote (16.5 million voters).  The AKP thus risks immediate isolation and the exclusion of 71 of its members from the country's political life for five years.  These include the president of the republic, Abdullah Gul, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, some of the cabinet ministers, and many of the country's mayors.  The accusation specifies that the party has attacked the secular values of the republic founded by Ataturk.  The AKP will have one month to present its defence, but this appears to most observers as a decidedly arduous undertaking.

If it is true, in fact, that new constitutional amendments introduced by the AKP, in government for more than five years, have made it more difficult to outlaw a political party, there are overwhelming proofs that the principles of the constitution have in effect been violated.

In his 162 page report, supplemented with audio and video extracts, chief prosecutor Yalcinkaya gathered all the evidence of the Islamic tendency of the AKP: party directives banning the sale of alcoholic beverages, the creation of women-only areas in public places, the distribution of copies of the Qur'an with the logo of the Islamic party, are some of the many examples provided.

"We cannot wait for the party to succeed in establishing the model state that it has proclaimed", writes the prosecutor, "to justify the decision of proceeding with a formal appeal.  In Turkey, it is clear that the Islamic political movements and the party in question aspire to establish a system founded on sharia, rather than on the rule of law".

The accusations also find confirmation in public opinion and everyday life.  And if it is true that the country is split in half, the much greater number breathed a sigh of relief after this decision.  It seemed that everything was proceeding too smoothly, and that no one was able any longer to block the rise of Islamisation: the fact that both the prime minister and president belong to the Islamic party, the abolition of the ban on wearing the veil in the universities, the indiscriminate rise in courses on the Qur'an, and women more and more completely covered . . . The secular forces have found a way to stop all this through legal action.  So now the AKP finds itself outside of the law.

Will it be able to find just as many "justifying instances" to defend its close connection with religion in these years? At risk are the economic health of the country, already afflicted by increasingly rampant inflation, and even more, the image of Turkish democracy.

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Constitutional court asked to resolve the AKP question quickly
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