Islamist Mayor Released

ANKARA (Reuters)-Turkish police on Friday released Ankara’s Islamist mayor from custody following his detention the previous day for suspected corruption involving city council tenders–the state-run Anatolian news agency said.

Mayor Melih Gokcek’s arrest on Thursday appeared to be part of an official crackdown on prominent Islamist figures.

The agency said the mayor was set free on the orders of a state security court prosecutor. It did not make clear whether any charges would subsequently be brought against him.

State authorities in April began probing Gokcek in connection with allegations of favoring political allies in lucrative tenders–having links to Islamist foundations and unfairly sacking employees.

Earlier this year–Recep Tayyip Erdogan–the Islamist mayor of Turkey’s biggest city–Istanbul–was convicted of provoking hatred in a speech.

Turkish secularist prosecutors have begun a legal campaign against leading Islamists since the courts banned the Islam-based Welfare Party in January for threatening the country’s official secular order.

Erdogan is to date the most prominent person to have been convicted in the campaign. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail for reciting a poem deemed to call for an Islamist uprising. The sentence has yet to be carried out.

A senior prosecutor and the ruling conservative party warned last week that Welfare’s successor–the Virtue Party–could also face closure for displaying the same traits as Welfare. Virtue is the biggest party in parliament as well as being the controlling party in the city councils of Ankara and Istanbul.


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