The Constitutional Court in Turkey has begun deliberating in a case which could see the country’s Prime Minister out of office, for supposedly trying introduce Islamic rule into the secular state.
The case began in March, when the court agreed to look at whether or not to close the ruling AK Party, headed by the devoutly muslim Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkey’s President Adbullah Gul.
Although Turkey is predominantly muslim, the country’s elite, spearheaded by the judiciary and the army are fiercely protective of its secular status.
Last year, when the AKP won the election, the country watched as Erdogan and Gul celebrated victory with their wives, both of whom wear the muslim headscarf – a powerful religious symbol in a secular country
Divisions in the country grew in January when the government lifted a ban on university students wearing the headscarf – a reform that was annulled by the constitutional court in June.
The court is looking at the possibility of closing the AKP, and banning the Prime Minister, the President and 69 senior officials from party membership for five years. Such a decision would almost certainly lead to an early election in Turkey, possibly in November.
AKP officials reject the charges levelled against the party.