Istanbul's Islamist Ex-Mayor faces fresh probe
Turkey's Council of State gave the green light Monday for a new investigation against the moderate Islamist former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has already served prison time for sedition, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The council, the country's highest administrative tribunal, authorised the chief prosecutor's office at the appeals court in Ankara to launch a probe into whether Erdogan "openly incited the public to violence" in a 1998 speech, Anatolia said.
Erdogan is accused of having incited supporters during the speech against the prosecutor who launched the earlier sediton case against him, Vural Savas.
If indicted, Erdogan could be jailed for three to five years under the Turkish penal code.
The 46-year-old Erdogan first came to public attention in 1994 when he was elected mayor of Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city with a population of 10 million, for the now defunct Welfare Party of former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan.
After the Welfare Party was outlawed in early 1998 for anti-secular activities, Erdogan continued his career under the banner of the Islamic Virtue Party.
Popular in Istanbul and backed by the moderate wing of the Virtue Party, Erdogan was at one time widely tipped to take over the Islamist leadership from Erbakan, who was barred from political activities for five years when his party was banned.
But Erdogan's prospects were dashed when he was sentenced to 10 months in jail in April 1998 for quoting a poem during a party rally which included the line: "The mosques are our barracks, the minarets our bayonets, the domes our helmets and the believers our soldiers".
The court decided his remarks amounted to "openly inciting public enmity and hatred of religious differences."
With the sentence, he was stripped of office and barred for life from running for elected office.
After successfully postponing his sentence twice, Erdogan finally went into a northwestern Turkish prison in March 1999 and was released in July after serving only four months.
Since his release, Erdogan has stayed away from politics, but was recently reported to be involved in efforts to set up a new pro-Islamic group to rival the Virtue Party -- ANKARA(AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)