Turkey’s president has condemned the murder of a judge inside the country’s highest court as an attack on the secular establishment. The gunman burst into a Council of State chamber and started shooting yesterday morning, reportedly shouting “God is great”. As well as killing Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin, he injured four other judges. He apparently targeted them because of their recent ruling against teachers wearing Muslim headscarves.
The attack is a stark reminder of the gulf between Turkey’s secularists and those keen to give religion a greater role in the national life. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer described the incident as “an attack against our Republic and our Republic’s irrevocable, democratic and secular character”.Last week unknown assailants – also shouting “God is greatest” – threw a small bomb at the offices of Turkey’s most staunchly secular newspaper. It had recently run a media campaign on what it sees as rising Islamic fundamentalism.