Monday, April 30, 2007

Massive anti-Islamist protests in Turkey

Over 700,000 people hit the streets in Istanbul to protest the presidential candidacy of Islamist foreign minister Abdullah Gul over the weekend. They consider it a tactic of Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan and his ruling party to try and impose an Islamist government based on sharia on Turkey.

Turkey is virtually the only predominantly Muslim nation that mandates a strict seperation of Islam and the secular government. Erdogan and Gul belong to the ruling AK party, which was formed from a banned Islamist party. They are both Islamists whose wives wears the Muslim hhijab banned from state institutions.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court began on Monday to examine an opposition request to suspend the presidential election, a move which would trigger early parliamentary polls and defuse tensions.The court has said it will try to issue its verdict by Wednesday, when parliament is due to hold the second round of voting on Gul’s candidacy.

The leader of Turkey’s secularist main opposition CHP, Deniz Baykal, called on Monday for an alliance among all opposition parties and accused the AK Party of wanting to create an Islamist state in Turkey. “The forces who want to protect the republic should unite,” Baykal told a news conference.

Another wild card, as I've mentioned, is the army, which is almost completely pro-secular and has issued a clear warning that they interpret the Turkish Constitution as giving them the authority to intervene if the secular government is threatened.

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