Turkey's Islamist movement suffered a split Friday when conservatives within the outlawed pro-Islamic Virtue Party (VP) set up their own party, said reports.
The formation of the new Saadet, or Happiness, party sealed the division of the Virtue Party into a traditionalist wing led by Recai Kutan, and modernizers rallying behind former Istanbul mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the Turkish Daily News.
The new party includes 51 of the 100 deputies from the outlawed party, banned last month for "anti-secular activities," and representatives of the party's old guard, with former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan thought to be heavily involved behind the scenes.
Kutan was quoted by the paper as saying that the “Turkish people will soon bring Saadet to power as a single-party government.”
The new party, representing the more conservative wing of Virtue, will vie with a "modernist" party to be formed soon for the allegiance of about 100 parliamentary deputies left as independents following the ban.
Virtue was the main opposition party in the 550-seat Parliament.
The leadership of the new party had already sent their petition asking interior ministry permission to found a new party on Thursday.
Independent deputy for Malatya and former leader of the defunct VP Recai Kutan said: "We are setting off with the purest of intentions and with the joy and love of serving our people and our country. May God help you all."
He went on to say, "This party is for the people who are victims of the bad economic situation, people who have lost their jobs, who have been made poor, for workers, civil servants and farmers."
He said the party would protect religious rights but not challenge the secularist principles of the state.
At the same time, he said, the Happiness Party would seek to replace the present Constitution entirely to guarantee broader human rights. Kutan said they had formed a brand new party with a feeling of responsibility, according to the paper.
"As a brand new party with a new cadre and a new spirit we are in the service and presence of our nation and we open our arms to embrace our people."
Kutan said that ideology-based states died out in the 1940s and that nobody had the right, or the power, to drag Turkey back to the 1940s. He said the new Happiness Party (HP) would attach importance to national, emotional and moral values, adding that they wished everyone could live according to their beliefs in Turkey.
He also expressed his wish to see more human rights, more freedoms, democracy, peace and welfare - Albawaba.com
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