Crisis grows in Turkey over rise of Islam

The embattled Turkish Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, was yesterday facing a spiralling crisis, inside and outside his government.

Turkey's increasingly jumpy generals, who object to his bid to steer Turkey on to a more Islamic course, issued fresh warnings to his government at the weekend. Two of his ministers also resigned.

The timing of the rebels' departure owed little to chance. Yalin Erez and Yildirim Aktuna, True Path ministers of trade and health respectively, tended their resignations just before Mr Erbakan and members of his government gathered for an eight-hour meeting with senior military figures on Saturday.

At the meeting, the generals, self-appointed guarantors of Turkey's secular identity, told Mr Erbakan that they expect him to reverse attempts to give Turkey a more pious complexion. The resignations of Mr Erez and Mr Aktuna (the latter a former army officer), were reminders that this demand is supported by some within the government.

The immediate reason for the fuss is Mr Erbakan's failure to implement "recommendations" delivered to him by the generals in February. Since then, squabbles over these proposals - which include bans on Islamic-style clothing and whiskers - have strained ties between the True Path, a coalition party which largely supports their implementation, and Mr Erbakan's Welfare Party, which does not. The most contentious of the recommendations is a crackdown on religious schools. These, the military fears, are producing a generation of Turks attracted more by fundamentalist Islam than the pro-West principles bequeathed by Ataturk, Turkey's secular founder.

Since February, Mr Erez and Mr Aktuna have loudly supported the military's line, upping their criticism of the Welfare Party and urging Tansu Ciller, the Foreign Minister and leader of the True Path Party, to withdraw from the government. But Mrs Ciller has shown little appetite for this idea. Her removal from the party leadership is cited by the opposition Motherland Party as a pre- condition for a fresh coalition.

Naturally, Mrs Ciller, herself a former prime minister, is not drawn to this option. She still hopes to assume a rotating premiership from Mr Erbakan next summer.

The question now is whether Mr Erez and Mr Aktuna can succeed in their stated aims of bringing down the government, or whether they will share the fate of other dissidents who have failed to muster sufficient support from colleagues to pose a threat to Mrs Ciller. This is partly because of the efficiency with which Mrs Ciller purged her party of potential mischief-makers when she won the leadership in 1993. It is also due to the absence of a credible alternative to the present government. Ministers who have resigned must persuade other dissatisfied True Path deputies that a new coalition can be formed.

While Mr Erez and Mr Aktuna spend the next few days wooing potential defectors, Mrs Ciller hopes to mollify the generals by offering them a timetable for implementing their recommendations.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Night job: Pacha nightclub DJ, Joan Ribas, is the new kingmaker on the island
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada