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Turkey’s leaders plan Muslim Europe

For the AKP, democracy is merely a means to a higher Islamic goal, says edward luttwak

If you thought Turkey was no threat to the West, think again. A new generation of politicians is aiming to Islamise the state by stealth. The AKP - Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, or Justice and Development Party - has a stranglehold on Turkey for the foreseeable future.

The AKP was founded to replace a previous Islamic party banned for extremism. It benefited hugely from the corruption scandals that dragged down the previous government, taking two-thirds of parliament in the 2002 general election (on a third of the vote).

On Friday, its ex-foreign secretary Abdullah Gul narrowly failed to win a victory in the first round of presidential elections. The result was close enough to prompt public demonstrations by secularists ahead of the second round voting on May 2, and a statement from the military - long the

Abdullah Gul narrowly failed to win a victory in the first round of presidential elections

guardians of Turkey's secular traditions - warning against a pro-Islam political agenda.

Since coming to power, the AKP has done nothing revolutionary, but it does have a revolutionary agenda. For all their suavity, its leaders seek to transform the country into a Sunni Muslim republic. This collides with institutions and laws strictly limiting Islam's role in public life, and with a long-standing security alliance with Israel.

It also collides with democracy itself, for no Koranic state can have a sovereign parliament free to legalise such abominations as equal rights for women and homosexuals or the drinking of alcohol.

A sinister slogan attributed to the AKP is that democracy is 'a bus we can ride until we reach our station'. Under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his foreign secretary Abdullah Gul, the party has been cautious until now.

But abroad the AKP has been more strident. Turkey has stepped up relations with Muslim countries and cooled them with Israel. They have capitalised on public suspicion of the