NEWS

In Brief

Erdogan calls emergency meeting of ruling AKP after headscarf ruling ANKARA (AP) – Turkey’s prime minister called an emergency meeting with officials from his Islamic-rooted party yesterday, a day after the country’s top court rebuffed a government attempt to lift a ban on wearing Muslim headscarves at universities. The Constitutional Court’s ruling did not bode well for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, which faces closure in a separate case on charges of becoming «the focal point of anti-secular activities.» The government had campaigned for re-election last year on a promise to lift the headscarf ban on grounds of religious and personal freedom. Upon victory, Erdogan passed constitutional amendments to lift the ban. But the court threw out the amendments Thursday, saying removing the ban would violate Turkey’s secular principles. The decision, which is final, threw a heavy legal barrier before any future attempts to lift the ban. Erdogan was discussing the court ruling yesterday with the highest-ranking members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Some analysts speculated the government could call another early election. Ruling party member Sadullah Ergin said only that «all options are on the table.» Another top party member, Bulent Arinc, described the court decision as «grave» and suggested the court had overstepped its power. IOC says it will crack down on illegal betting at Beijing in August The International Olympic Committee said yesterday it would crack down on illegal betting during the Beijing Games with the help of Interpol and major betting companies. IOC President Jacques Rogge said a special unit had been set up and would operate during the August 8-24 Games to monitor betting patterns and flag any unusual or suspicious bets. «It is clear we need and have the collaboration with major bona fide betting companies,» Rogge told reporters at the end of an executive board meeting. «We rely on them to advise us if there is any abnormal pattern of betting. It is in their interest to work with us and our interest to work with them,» he said. Several sports, including soccer, tennis and cricket have been hit by illegal betting scandals in recent months. Rogge said action would be taken on the spot if abnormal betting patters were discovered during the Games. He also defended China’s plans to pass the Olympic Torch relay through Tibet, despite worldwide protests during the international relay leg against Beijing’s policy in the province, and violent demonstrations earlier this year that triggered a Chinese military crackdown. (Reuters) Hundreds of Turkish women take to the streets to protest around the country ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Hundreds of headscarved women protested in Turkey yesterday against a court ruling to cancel a reform which would have allowed students to wear the Muslim garment at university. About 500 women demonstrated in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir after Friday prayers, and hundreds more in colorful headscarves chanted slogans in Istanbul. «I’m crushed and feel hopeless. I really don’t feel equal to anybody else in this country anymore,» said Esra Altinay Ozbecetek, 29, who ditched university when she was 19 because she was not allowed to wear her headscarf to class. «For 10 years, I’ve watched people enter and graduate from university and I’ve just sat by and watched,» she said. Bomber sentenced An ethnic Albanian man was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison for a 2001 bus bombing that killed 11 Serbs in one of Kosovo’s worst single attacks since its 1998-99 war. Florim Ejupi was convicted of planting and detonating a bomb that destroyed a bus carrying Serb pilgrims heading to the monastery town of Gracanica, minutes after the convoy entered Kosovo from Serbia proper. «A massive explosion hit the first bus of the convoy carrying 57 ethnic Serb passengers,» the UN mission administering Kosovo since the war said in a statement. (Reuters) Safe kickoff Turkish and Portuguese police officials are not expecting any troublemakers when the two countries play each other today in the opening match of the European Championship. The officials said yesterday that officers from both countries were patrolling the Geneva International Airport and other parts of the city to stop any hooligans who might attempt to enter Switzerland, but added it was unlikely to have undesired visitors anyway. Mustafa Aygun, the head of a 21-man Turkish police delegation in Austria and Switzerland, said Turkish fans with a bad record were not allowed to buy tickets for Euro 2008. He said they were sure those fans were not flying to either of the two host countries during June. «We already checked the list of people who applied for tickets. Troublesome people will not be coming here,» Aygun said. (AP)