Turkish PM whose party faces closure declares loyalty to secularism

Turkey's prime minister proclaimed his loyalty to secularism Sunday, and said legal efforts to have his Islamic-oriented party disbanded were undemocratic. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party have faced months of pressure, legal challenges and criticism from Turkey's judiciary and military, where many fear religion is encroaching on secular traditions established when modern Turkey was founded in 1923. Turkey's chief prosecutor has asked the Constitutional Court to shut down Erdogan's party on the grounds that it is undermining secularism. The prosecutor also wants 70 party members, including Erdogan, banned from politics for five years. The Constitutional Court will announce Monday whether it will hear the case.