The Turkish government is experiencing turmoil and conflict as it awaits news from the Constitutional Court as to its decision of banning or not banning the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) as a legal political organization. The Court is reviewing a case brought by the Public Prosecutor who charges the AKP with seeking to undermine the Turkish constitution by working to end its secular base and institute a Muslim centered society which will govern on the basis of sharia law. In recent days, ultra nationalist leaders have urged Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, to stand down from politics if his party is banned in order to avoid further conflict in society. In parliamentary debate, Erdogan disregarded the request, and stated bluntly, “if a politician decides to stand down from politics, it will be due to the will of the people,” not because of a judicial decision.
Deniz Baykal, of the opposition Republican People’s Party, argued Turkey is fast approaching a decision if the Constitutional Court decides to ban the AKP. “Will Turkey remain a modern nation or become a weird Islamic state of the Middle East?”
However, there is a third option which Erdogan and many members of the AKP are urging– creation of a modern nation which respects the rights of its religious members while also respecting the rights of those who believe in secular principles. If this third path is taken, it offers a model for the entire Middle East.