Iran `exporting ideology' to Turkey

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The Independent Online
THE TURKISH Prime Minister accused neighbouring Iran yesterday of trying to promote radical Islam inside Turkey, where a debate is raging over the place in society of the Muslim headscarf.

Bulent Ecevit also said Iran was supporting rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting Ankara for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey. "Although we do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs, Iran's efforts to export its own ideology to Turkey continue," the Anatolian news agency quoted Mr Ecevit as saying.

The Islamist deputy Merve Kavakci sparked uproar last week by entering the parliament in a Muslim headscarf. For secularist Turks the headscarf is a symbol of a movement they believe seeks to introduce in Turkey a strict Islamic code similar to the Iranian system.

Mr Ecevit said he was not blaming the alleged interference on the Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, elected in 1997 on a platform of liberal reforms within the Islamic system. "I believe that President Khatami is trying to bring about a modern regime, but I suppose there are certain contradictions within Iran," he said. (Reuters)