Tuesday, July 29, 2008

After bombing, Turkish leader urges unity

ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eight government ministers and thousands of mourners stood as burial prayers were said at a local mosque on Monday for 10 of the 17 victims of Sunday's double bombing. The coffins, like many houses in the area around the bombing site, were draped with Turkey's red-and-white flag.

On Monday, the country's highest court began considering a prosecutor's contention that Erdogan's party, Justice and Development, or AK, had brought Islamic practices into politics in violation of the founding principles of the Turkish republic.

If the party is found guilty, it could be banned and 71 senior members, including President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan, could be barred from politics for five years. The court is expected to reach its verdict in two weeks.

Before the funeral, Erdogan visited the site of the attack, in the Gungoren neighborhood, alluding to the case as he called for calm and urged nationwide solidarity. "Our problem or issue right now is not the closure of AK Party, but the problem that Turkey struggles with," Erdogan said in a televised press briefing. "Our problem is to maintain unity and togetherness so that our nation can attain a better position."

As he spoke, local residents chanted slogans against a Kurdish separatist group that is suspected in the bombing.

No comments: