Turkish PM Attacked For Telling Gul Critics to Leave

August 22, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: Reuters


ANKARA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan came under fire on Wednesday for calling on Turks who refused to accept Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as their next president to leave the country.

Turkey, a Muslim country with a secular constitution, is polarized over whether Gul, a respected diplomat with a past in political Islam, should become the next head of state.

Turkish newspapers, non-governmental organizations and opposition parties described as undemocratic Erdogan's attack on Hurriyet newspaper columnist Bekir Coskun.

"The people who say that (Gul is not my president), must renounce their citizenship," Erdogan said on television late on Monday, according to Hurriyet, Turkey's largest daily.

Gul is running as the ruling AK Party's sole candidate in a race which has heightened tensions between the Islamist-rooted government and the military as well as with the secular elite.