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Turkish ruling AK party escapes ban

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 Turkish ruling AK party escapes ban
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Turkey’s governing AK Party will not be banned after winning its battle in the constitutional court.

Prosecutors had called for the party to be closed and for President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be frozen out of politics for five years.

The charge was violating Turkey’s strictly secular constitution by trying to encourage Islamic practices.

Six out of the 11 court judges backed the prosecution’s request for a ban but that fell one short of the seven needed.

Instead, the party was given financial penalties, including fines and a block on access to state funds.

When it was re-elected last year, the party received 47 percent of the vote. Despite such popular support, it has been in constant dispute with the country’s secular elite, in particular the army and the judiciary.

The AKP maintains that it is simply allowing more religious freedom as demanded by the majority Muslim population.

The party wants to take Turkey into the EU, which has welcomed the court’s decision.