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Turkish Court: Ruling Party Exploits Religion

Turkey's highest court has accused the Islamic-rooted governing party of exploiting religion for political ends, but it says there is no evidence the party is promoting violence.

In a statement released Friday, the Constitutional Court outlined its reasons for ruling in July against a ban on the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party on charges the party violated secular laws.

The court Friday said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and key AK party members had breached several secular norms. It cited a government attempt to lift a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves at universities.

But the court said it found no evidence the party is seeking to overthrow the country's secular system through violence. It said the party has also launched reforms to improve democratic freedoms and human rights.

Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, had called for the court to bar 70 ruling party members from politics, including President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. He accused them of trying to replace the country's secular principles with an Islamic government.

The party denied the charges.

The Constitutional Court rejected the accusations in July, ruling against a ban. It ruled instead for the party to be fined, calling the financial sanctions a serious warning.