Engin Demirci, 9 August 2008

on: No AKP Ban: Turkey Breathes A Sigh of Relief

Turkey's constitutional court will hear a case that could plunge the country into a political crisis with grave consequences for Europe and the Middle East.

The governing AK party and its leading members are charged with violating the secular principles of the country's post-Ottoman founding father Mustapha Kemal Ataturk.

The AK is a moderate Islamist organisation that has, in government, overseen a period of rare economic growth and stability. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also succeeded where past governments failed, by starting membership talks with the European Union. But Mr Erdogan is also keen to accommodate in law the country's Muslim identity - by reversing, for example, a ban on women in public office wearing headscarves. The headscarf ban is a shibboleth for the Kemalist secular establishment and the army in particular.

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