AKP AVOIDS BAN BUT WILL BE PUNISHED WITH FINANCIAL SANCTIONS

PanARMENIAN.Net
31.07.2008 22:00 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey's Constitutional Court has decided not to ban
the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), accused of undermining
the country's secular system. But the judges did cut half the AKP's
treasury funding for this year.

The AKP, which won a huge poll victory last year, denies it wants
to create an Islamist state by stealth. It called the case an attack
on democracy.

The powerful military sees itself as the guardian of the modern
secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Court president Hasim Kilic said the financial sanctions imposed on
the AKP were a "serious warning", BBC reports.

The prosecutor had argued that the secular system was in grave danger
and accused the AKP of using the advantages of democracy to achieve
a Islamist regime "which involves violence." His key argument was an
AKP-sponsored constitutional amendment passed in February that aimed
to abolish a ban on the Islamic headscarf in universities.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the amendment violated secular
principles and scrapped it in a separate case in June.

The prosecutor also cited attempts by AKP municipalities to ban or
restrict alcohol sales and promote religious education and Islamist
lifestyle.

At least seven of the 11 court judges would need to vote in favor for
the party to be banned. But six judges wanted a ban and five did not
want to do so.

EU officials expressed some relief at the court's ruling on Wednesday.

"It is positive. Turkey is living a tense situation and we very
much hope that the decision by the court will contribute to restore
political stability," said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU
foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The foundations of modern Turkish Republic were laid in 1923 by
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Turkey was proclaimed a secular country. 20
parties representing Islamist or Kurdish forces have been banned as
jeopardizing the constitutional regime.

Ataturk's line was traditionally defended by army that seized the
power in1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997.