Huge Crowd Protests Against Islamic Rule in Turkey
Here’s some good news to start off a Sunday morning, as more than a million people took to the streets of Istanbul to protest against Islamic rule of Turkey.
ISTANBUL, Turkey - At least 300,000 Turks waving the red national flag flooded central Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government, saying the Islamic roots of Turkey’s leaders threatened to destroy the country’s modern foundations.
Like the protesters — who gathered for the second large anti-government demonstration in two weeks — Turkey’s powerful secular military has accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of tolerating radical Islamic circles.
“They want to drag Turkey to the dark ages,” said 63-year-old Ahmet Yurdakul, a retired government employee who attended the protest.
Exactly right. The protesters are saying the same things we’ve been saying at LGF for years (and getting slammed by the left for it).
The military said Friday night that it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the process — a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives.
Sunday’s crowd chanted that the presidential palace was “closed to imams.” Some said Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc was an enemy of the secular system, because he said the next president should be “pious.”
In the 1920s, with the Ottoman Empire in ruins, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk imposed Western laws, replaced Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, banned Islamic dress and granted women the right to vote.
The ruling party, however, has supported religious schools and tried to lift the ban on Islamic head scarves in public offices and schools. Secularists are also uncomfortable with the idea of Gul’s wife, Hayrunisa, being in the presidential palace because she wears the traditional Muslim head scarf.
“We don’t want a covered woman in Ataturk’s presidential palace,” said Ayse Bari, a 67-year-old housewife. “We want civilized, modern people there.”
A protester holds a placard showing a bulb, the symbol of the ruling AK Party, wrapped with a black chador during a rally to oppose the AK Party’s presidential candidate in Istanbul April 29, 2007. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul refused on Sunday to withdraw from Turkey’s presidential vote, ignoring pressure from the army and calls from tens of thousands of demonstrators worried about his Islamist past. Placard reads “We are aware of danger”. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY)
UPDATE at 4/29/07 8:41:45 am:
The article above seriously understates the attendance at this rally; there were more than a million people.
ISTANBUL (AFP) - More than one million people took part in a mass rally here Sunday in support of secularism and democracy amid a tense stand-off between the Islamist-rooted government and the army over presidential elections.
The crowd, carrying red-and-white Turkish flags and portraits of founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, filled Istanbul’s sprawling Caglayan square in a demonstration organized by some 600 non-governmental organizations.
“Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” “Neither Sharia, nor coup d’etat, democratic Turkey,” they chanted.