03/17/2008, 00.00
TURKEY
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Erdoğan ready to respond to charges that he wants to introduce Sharia law

The prime minister’s party is considering a constitutional amendment to limit the powers of the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals who has file a petition before the Constitutional Court demanding the dissolution of the ruling party for being a religious group.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is considering a measure that would strip the chief prosecutor of Supreme Court of Appeals of much of his power. This, for much of Turkey’s press, is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to charges by the prosecutor that the AKP is a religious party bent on introducing the Sharia, albeit by democratic means, and as such should be dissolved.

In a 162-page file sent to the Constitutional Court late Friday evening, Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya presented what he considers evidence that “political Islam in Turkey has a claim to change state and society rules, by not being restricted in the area between the person and the God.”

“The main principle of political Islam is Sharia,” Yalcinkaya wrote in his indictment. “In secular state order, the source of public arrangements cannot be religious rules; it cannot even be conceivable that these arrangements will be made according to religious rules."  

He concluded his case by calling for sanctions against the AKP and its leaders, including current President Abdullah Gül.

Today the chief prosecutor’s attack continues to reverberate politically as the main focus of protests (see photo).

In an article Hurriyet looks at the AKP’s to “Plan to by-pass chief prosecutor.”

Similarly, Cumhuriyet writes that the AKP is trying to find a “formula” out of the situation.

For its part Radikal suggests that the card up the AKP’s sleeve is a “mini amendments to the Constitution.’

Pro-Islamist Zaman talks instead about the “chorus of protest from politicians, academics and civil society organisations that erupted” against the chief prosecutor.

Other papers like Milliyet and Yeni Safak become a sounding board of the views of the Turkish business community whose main organisation, the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), said in a statement that “Past experiences have showed that closing political parties did not contribute to the solution of problems.”

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