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Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007

Turks protest PM’s possible presidential run

April 15, 2007

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— Some 300,000 Turks protested against their pro-Islamic prime minister Saturday, draping themselves in flags and pouring into streets and squares in a demonstration of the intense secular opposition he will face if he runs for president.

Protesters called on the government to resign and chanted: "We don't want an imam as president!" Flags of support fluttered from balconies and windows.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brandished his strong religious convictions, speaking out against restrictions on wearing Islamic-style head scarves in government offices and schools, and taking steps to bolster religious institutions in this country founded on the principle of secular rule.

He also tried to criminalize adultery before being forced to back down under intense pressure from the European Union, which Turkey is trying to join.

The country's pro-secular president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, has been a brake on the pro-Islamic movement but is stepping down May 16. Erdogan's Justice and Development party, which dominates parliament, is expected this month to announce its candidate to replace Sezer in the appointed presidency.

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