Turkey’s Ergenekon Case Raises Kurdish Hopes and Fears

Turkey’s Ergenekon Case Raises Kurdish Hopes and Fears

A high-profile trial of a shadowy Turkish ultra-nationalist organization dubbed Ergenekon, after the mythic birth place of the Turkic race, got under way in the Silvri Prison Complex near Istanbul on Monday amid fervent demonstrations.

The Turkish press has long anticipated the commencement of the trial, which is the culmination of a 16-month investigation and 2455-page indictment that has divided opinion in the country. The Islamist ruling AK Party has long championed the case as the first crackdown in Turkey on "the deep state," an alleged covert, nationalist cabal of military officers, intelligence agents and policemen acting outside the judicial and political parameters of the state. They accuse the gang of seeking to assassinate prominent Turkish figures, such as Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, in an effort to destabilize the country and generate support for a coup against the government in 2009.

Opponents, however, point to the ever-widening circle of the accused -- which now includes critical journalists, opposition politicians and even a famous transsexual actress -- as evidence that the case is simply a means for the government to silence critics and pursue what they claim is a hidden agenda to expand the role of Islam in the rigorously secular state.

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