May 18, 2006

Two detained over Turkish judge killing: reports

By Inci Ozturk

ANKARA (Reuters) - Police have detained two people in
connection with the killing of a top Turkish judge in an attack
that raised tensions between the secular establishment and the
religious-minded government, media said on Thursday.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

A lawyer stormed into a chamber of the country's top
administrative court in Ankara on Wednesday, shooting dead one
judge and injuring four other judges while shouting he was a
soldier of Allah.

The gunman, in his late 20s, was detained shortly after the
attack in the capital.

The administrative court, or the Council of State, has come
under intense criticism from Islamists for its strict upholding
of Turkey's secular laws, especially the ban on headscarves in
universities and public offices.

Turkey's political leaders have condemned the attack, which
has shaken the secular state.

Council of State judges led thousands of people to Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk's mausoleum on Thursday to pay homage to the
Republic's founder in a gesture to mark their support for

Turkish media reported the assailant as saying under
interrogation he had targeted the judges because of a ruling in
February preventing a woman from becoming a headteacher because
she wore a headscarf.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP), which has roots in political Islam,
have also criticised the court's ruling and called for easing
of the headscarf ban. Erdogan's wife wears a headscarf.

The ban dates back to Ataturk, who abolished religious
dress and adopted a European-style legal code in 1923.

Tensions between Turkey's secularist establishment and
those they perceive as Islamists bent on reviving the influence
of religion in national life have escalated in recent months.

Secularists accuse the highly popular AKP of having a
hidden Islamist agenda. The AKP denies this.

The country's largest newspaper Hurriyet called on Turks to
unite to defend secularism.

And the front page of daily Milliyet said: "A bullet
against secularism."

Islamic militants, Kurdish separatists and far-leftists
have all carried out attacks in Turkey, which began European
Union accession talks last October, in recent years.

Suicide bombings blamed on al Qaeda killed more than 60
people in Istanbul in 2003.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove)