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News Briefs II

Turkey's Prime Minister Assails Plan to Curb Islamic Activity

The Washington Post
ANKARA, Turkey

Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan struck a defiant note Monday in response to a 20-point plan from the military-dominated National Security Council aimed at curbing the Islamic radicalism that has risen under his government.

The plan was widely seen as an ultimatum from the top brass to Erbakan, whose pro-Islamic Welfare Party has infuriated the military-led secular establishment with its push for Islamic-oriented changes and lenience in the face of recent radical Islamic activities. Included in the 20 measures were calls for new laws and a stricter application of existing laws designed to protect the secular principles that have guided public life in Turkey since the republic was founded in 1923.

The National Security Council, which issued the plan early Saturday morning, comprises the nation's five top-ranking military officials as well as the president, prime minister, and other high-ranking government officials.

The ultimatum followed several incidents during the Welfare Party's eight months in power that have drawn the ire of the armed forces, who are the constitutional protector of the secularism imposed by the nation's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Welfare's attempts to foster warm relations with Iran, its recent attempts to push measures to allow Islamic-style dress in government buildings and build huge mosques in secular strongholds in Istanbul and Ankara, and its leniency in the face of radical activities by Welfare mayors and supporters led to the ultimatum, according to a senior government official.

Ford to Drop Thunderbird, Cougar

The Washington Post

Ford Motor Co. will drop its Thunderbird and Cougar car lines at the end of the 1997 model year, company and industry sources said Monday.

The move is the latest in a series of steps taken by Ford to cut costs by trimming redundant, slow-selling automobiles. Earlier this year, Ford announced that it will ditch its South Korean-made Aspire economy car at the end of the 1997 model run.

The Thunderbird, introduced in 1955, is Ford's oldest continuously produced car. One Ford source said the company probably will bring back the Thunderbird in model year 2000, largely "because the Thunderbird name has a lot of brand equity, and we can't conceive of there being a Ford without a Thunderbird."

But the Cougar, introduced in 1967, probably will not be revived, sources said.

Unaffected by the coming changes is the Lincoln Mark VIII, a luxury two-door coupe, which will remain in production until it is replaced by a Mark IX edition in the year 2000, according to company sources.

All three cars have been selling poorly. Thunderbird sales were down 33 percent in 1996, Cougar sales were off 25 percent and the Mark VIII was down 10 percent, according to figures from J.D. Power and Associates, a California-based market research firm.

The Thunderbird had its best year in 1977 with sales of 325,153 cars, but last year only 79,721 were sold.