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ICC Note:

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan plans to draft a new constitution that recognizes the rights of Christians and other non-Muslim minorities, Al Arabiya reports.

By Dina Al-Shibeeb

4/17/2011 Turkey (Al Arabiya) – Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan has vowed to draft a new constitution that will strengthen democracy and boost the country’s economy to put it in the world’s top 10 by 2023.

Mr. Erdogan expressed his desire for a strong mandate that will allow him to replace the constitution that was drafted under military rule in 1982. Critics have argued that the present constitution contains clauses that restrict political rights and freedoms, including free speech and rights for minorities.

Non-Muslim Turks have long demanded recognition so they can have the same rights and protections as Muslims in education, charity and property ownership. At present, they adhere to rules under the Lausanne Treaty written at the independence of Turkey in 1923. That treaty only recognizes Jews, Armenians and Greek Orthodox as minorities, leaving Roman Catholics, Syriacs and Protestants without certain rights.

AKP, which is considered Turkey’s dominant political force, came into power in 2002 after ousting secular parties marred by allegations of corruption. However, its rival accuse it of having an Islamist agenda, a charge the AKP denies. It says that it sees itself as a Muslim version of Europe’s Christian Democratic parties.

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