Turkey's Ruling Party Convenes After Court's Headscarf Ruling

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's ruling AK Party held an emergency meeting Friday after the top court overturned a government-led reform that lifted a ban on Muslim headscarves at universities.

Analysts said the ruling by the Constitutional Court on Thursday was the most serious setback for the AK Party since it came to power in 2002 and posed a serious threat to its survival.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan chaired the AK Party meeting.

The now-defeated headscarf amendment plays a central role in a separate case that seeks to close the AK Party for anti-secular activities, and ban 71 members, including the prime minister and the president, from belonging to a political party for five years.

The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the closure case brought by the Court of Appeals chief prosecutor in the coming months but if the party feels its has been boxed in, it may make a preemptive move, analysts said.

Analysts expect the AK Party to be outlawed, although some say the court could instead decide to punish the party's leaders given that forming a new political party, were the AK Party to be banned, would be easy under Turkish electoral law.

Senior AK Party members said recently that the party had begun to believe that the party had begun planning to create a new political party.

Also on Friday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul denied that he planned to turn the palace office of modern Turkey's founder into a toilet.

A columnist in staunchly secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper had said Gul, a former Islamist and ex-member of the ruling AK Party, was converting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's old office in the presidential palace in Ankara into a toilet.