Turkish AK party: "Dont shout Allah is Great!". No surprises there

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 21:52:56 -0000

Tayyip Erdogan (the new Erbakan)

Israeli-Turkish relations in the military, defense and economic areas
will not be hurt," he told Israel Radio. "The relationship between us
will remain good because it is a very strong interest of the two
countries, backed by the United States."

( <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,68912,00.html>
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,68912,00.html)


Turkish Winner To West: Fear Not

Turkish Justice and Development Party backers celebrate outside party
headquarters in Istanbul (AP)

"The whole world will be watching developments very carefully."
Opposition party leader Deniz Baykal, after the victory by an
Islamic-rooted party in Turkey's elections

(AP) After an overwhelming victory in Turkey's elections, a party with
Islamic roots pledged to maintain the nation's pro-Western stance,
quickly moving to soothe worries that this crucial U.S. ally would
undergo a radical shift toward Islam.

The Justice and Development Party won a parliamentary majority in
Sunday's elections - the first time in 15 years that any party has been
in a position to govern alone - largely due to voter fury over a
devastated economy.

The win could concern Turkey's powerful and firmly secular military,
which in the past forced a pro-Islamic government from power. However,
the victorious Justice party stressed it didn't want confrontation.

Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly laid out stances reassuring to
the military: support for secularism and for Turkey's bid to join the
European Union.

He even said that while he opposes military action against Iraq, Turkey
could support it if it were approved by the United Nations, a position
mirroring that of outgoing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

"We will not spend our time dizzy with victory. We will build a Turkey
where common sense prevails," Erdogan said at a huge celebration at
party headquarters early Monday after the win became clear.

On the sidelines, a party official called on supporters not to shout
religious slogans such as "Allah is Great!"

The vote came as the United States was trying to showcase Turkey as an
example of a secular, democratic country that is overwhelmingly Muslim
but has cast its future with the West. Turkey - NATO's only Muslim
member - is crucial to any possible action against Iraq, which borders
this nation.

The Justice Party has its roots in Turkey's Islamist movement, but it
has denied that it has any religious agenda. Erdogan leads the party,
but has been banned from standing as a candidate because of a jail
sentence he served in 1999 for publicly reading a poem that a court
deemed anti-secular.

Erdogan told the Milliyet newspaper in an interview that his party will
meet Tuesday and Wednesday to decide on who to nominate as premier. The
Justice party appeared to be just short of the two-thirds parliamentary
majority needed to change the constitution to allow Erdogan to become
premier.

Under Turkey's complicated election rules, the Justice party's powerful
hold on parliament was won despite a less than overwhelming show of
popular support. With 99.9 percent of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan's
party won 34 percent of the vote, the semi-official Anatolia news agency
reported. The center-left Republican People's Party had 19 percent,
Anatolia reported.

Other parties remained below the 10 percent threshold needed to enter
parliament, meaning that the Justice party and the Republicans would
divvy up all 550 seats. Projections by Anatolia showed the Justice party
taking 363 seats - enough to rule without a coalition
- and the Republicans winning 178.

Republican party leader Deniz Baykal refused Monday to describe
Erdogan's party as a threat to Turkey's secular system. "Such
accusations would put the country into distress," he said.

"We have to act in good faith. But I will retain caution," Baykal said.
"The whole world will be watching developments very carefully."

Justice sought to calm the public and the markets with pledges of
support for secularism, Turkey's bid to join the European Union and an
International Monetary Fund austerity program.

"We have no intention to challenge the world," Erdogan told Dow Jones
Newswires. "Under our government, Turkey will be in harmony with the
world."

On the issue of Iraq, Erdogan said he hoped for a peaceful resolution.
"We do not want war, blood, tears and dead in our region," Erdogan said.
But, he added, "we are obliged by the United Nations' decisions."

Markets seemed not to be rattled by the party's victory. Shares had
risen 5.3 percent on Istanbul's benchmark index in early trading Monday.

The election also marked the ouster of Turkey's longtime dominant
political class. The party of outgoing Prime Minister Ecevit won only 1
percent of the vote and his coalition partners were below the 10 percent
threshold needed for entry into parliament.

Ecevit expressed concern over the Justice party's Islamic roots. "I hope
this party respects the secular and democratic regime," he said.

Former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, Turkey's first female premier,
announced Monday that she planned to step down as leader of the
center-right True Path Party after it won about 9 percent of the vote.

The last time a leader from the Islamic movement led a government was in
1996, when Necmettin Erbakan became the first pro-Islamic premier to
take office in Turkey.

Erbakan was forced from government in 1997 amid strong pressure from the
military. At the time, Erdogan was a member of Erbakan's party and was
mayor of Istanbul.


Source: Associated Press. 

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