06/06/2008, 00.00
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Erdoğan’s AKP vetting how to react to Constitutional Court’s decision to reinstate headscarf ba

Turkey’s highest court overturns law lifting headscarf ban in state universities, cited by chief prosecutor as evidence for the AKP’s alleged Islamisation plan. Ruling party is examining the possibility of holding a referendum or new elections.

Ankara (AsaiNews) – Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing its response to the Constitutional Court's rigid decision to overturn the law that lifted the headscarf ban in state universities.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP’s main decision-making body are meeting this afternoon to discuss options following the Court’s ruling, especially since it might herald what might happen to the party’s itself after a petition was filed against it for trying to “Islamise” Turkey, which violates the secularist basis of the state.

In view of article 2 of the constitution, which cannot be amended and which was explicitly cited in the ruling, the 11-member court agreed with the petitioner, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, by a margin of 9 to 2. Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç was one of the two dissenting voices.

AKP leaders are particularly concerned that the law lifting the headscarf ban is among the 17 pieces of evidence cited in the petition presented last 14 march before the Constitutional Court by Turkey's chief prosecutor. If upheld, the ruling party could be disbanded and 71 of its leaders, including Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, banned.  

The party’s first reaction was swift. Bekir Bozdağ, deputy AKP parliamentary leader, slammed the ruling, saying the “court overstepped the limits set out in Article 148 of the Constitution and violated the constitutional principle that no state institution can use powers not derived from the Constitution.”

Some reports in the Turkish press are now suggesting that the ruling party might call a referendum or hold early elections before the Court rules on the AKP’s future.

It is also noteworthy to point out that Turkish Chief of Staff, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, stated that Turkey was a secular, democratic state, and that the Court’s decision must be respected.

General Büyükanıt represents an institution in Turkish society, the armed forces, that consider itself as the guarantor of the constitution, and which has intervened more than once in the country’s political affairs.

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