Foes Gear to Fight New Bid By Ex-Islamist to Lead Turkey

Critics fear extreme religious shift for nation
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2007 2:22 AM CDT
Foes Gear to Fight New Bid By Ex-Islamist to Lead Turkey
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second right. his wife Emine, right, his deputy and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, and Gul's wife Hayrunisa salute cheering supporters of their Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP, outside AKP headquarters in Ankara, late Sunday, July 22,...   (Associated Press)

Turkish secularists are bracing for another clash over the presidential candidacy of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a devout Muslim and one-time Islamist party member who critics fear plans to enforce extreme religious principals in public life. The last time he was nominated as the ruling party's candidate, just three months ago, the army threatened a coup, and thousands took to the streets.

He is almost certain to win. Though his wife wears a Muslim head scarf that has outraged many, Gul claims to be a champion of secularism. Critics say he has a secret plan with the prime minister, also a one-time Islamist, to establish a religious state in a nation that has traditionally been among the most liberal of Muslim countries. (More Turkey stories.)

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