Turkey’s constitutional court could deal a fatal blow to AKP if it rules against the party on charges of anti-secular activities. Last March it agreed to consider a prosecution bid to have the party closed down. Prosecutors also want 71 members, including its leaders, banned from belonging to a political party for five years.
Turkey has a history of banning political parties and the AK Party’s predecessor was banned in 2001 for Islamist activities.
The AKP denies the charges of Islamist activities which, its says, are an attempt by secularist opponents to bring down the government.
But even if the securlar establishment succeeds analysts say AKP’s support base would not disappear.
“In February 2007 the AKP supporters were less than 30%, but after the rejection of Abdullah Gul as president of the republic, and after four months of tension with the army, the AKP won the general election with 47% of the votes. So if the AKP were to be closed, a new party with a new name would become even more popular,” political analyst Toktamis Ates .
The securalist camp fear AKP’s agenda is to undermine the strict separation of religion and politics. It is rooted in the foundation of the modern state in the 1920s from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Some experts say those fears unfounded.
Theologian Ali Ozek said: “Since an Islamic party came to power in Turkey, secularists have been saying that they will forbid many freedoms according to the Sharia law, but they forget that even during the Ottoman empire in this country nobody was punished in the name of the Sharia, for instance for drinking alcohol, these freedoms were not invented by securlarists”.
The headscarf reform has rekindled a decades-long dispute over the role of Islam in this predominantly Muslim but officially secular country.