Turkey\'s Constitutional Court Hears Final Arguments in Virtue Party Case
Turkey's constitutional court will hear final arguments on Tuesday in a case which seeks to shut down the country's largest opposition party, the pro-Islamist Virtue Party, reported the BBC online.
The closure of Virtue could have far-reaching political consequences, not least the dismissal of more than 100 deputies from parliament, said the BBC.
Chief Prosecutor Vural Savas accused the party of being a focus for fundamentalist activities. He said that the party was established illegally as a successor to the Welfare Party, which was banned in 1998.
Savas compares the Virtue Party to "vampires spreading across the country, promoting subversive Islamic activities in an effort to overthrow the secular state."
The BBC said that the Virtue Party strongly disputed the charges, and said it wants to take its place in mainstream Turkish politics.
But the court's decision, which is expected within a few weeks, will set the political tone in Turkey for some time.
On Monday, the country's three coalition parties put a package of constitutional amendments before parliament that would make it tougher than ever before to ban political parties, according to AFP.
A proposed amendment in the package could help the threatened Islamic Virtue Party if it comes into force in time, said the agency.
The draft, submitted by deputies of the three parties, also proposed reducing the presidential term of office from seven to five years.
The package envisages incorporating into the constitution of a 1999 modification of the political parties law, which toughened conditions for banning political parties, said AFP.
If Virtue is closed, the country faces renewed criticism from the European Union for limiting freedom of expression, according to the BBC.
A ban could also trigger domestic political turmoil. If all the Virtue deputies were removed from parliament for example, a general election could well be on the cards, said the BBC -- (Several Sources)
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