Turkey’s Constitutional Court is set to continue deliberations over whether to close down the governing AK Party for alleged anti-secular activities. The party’s senior members could also be banned from politics for five years if judges decide that they are trying to establish Sharia law by stealth.
The case is linked to a long-running power struggle between Turkey’s secular establishment and the AK, which has Islamic origins. The two sides are at odds over the direction of the officially secular but predominantly Muslim country. The AK party denies the charges. A ruling is expected in early August.
The culmination of the case comes at a time of escalating tension in Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implied that the twin bombings which killed 17 people in Istanbul on Sunday were the work of the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK.
Erdogan suggested it may have been in revenge for air raids on PKK fighters in Northern Iraq as well as a cross-border ground offensive earlier this year.
But the PKK has denied reponsibility and attributed Sunday’s twin bombings to what it called “dark forces”, taken to mean hard line Turkish nationalists who may be trying to foment suspicion between the country’s feuding power circles.