The leaders of Turkey’s ruling AK Party have appeared before the Constitutional Court, answering charges which could see their government thrown out of office.
The AK is accused of intending to establish an Islamist state in traditionally-secular Turkey. Its leading figures, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, deny that but could face personal bans from politics for up to five years.
Turkey has long been divided by ideology and religion. Its founding hero, Kemal Ataturk, removed religion from public life and instituted a pro-Western policy. The AK is a pro-business, reformist party with roots in political Islam. Now the secular elite, including the army, says the AK is relaxing that strict separation of state and religion.
Analysts say the chances of a ban have increased since the Constitutional Court overturned the government’s decision to allow female students to wear the veil at university.