Thursday, May 18, 2006

Supporting secularism: Turks protest shooting of judge by "soldier of Allah"

Turkey, thanks to Ataturk has long been a secular republic with a Moslem population. Now the secularists take to the streets to protest the slaying of a judge by a "suspected Islamist gunman" and to show their support for Turkey to remain secular as reported here:
Tens of thousands of Turks have turned funeral ceremonies for a judge shot by a suspected Islamist gunman, into a mass show of support for secularism.
They waved Turkish flags and chanted for the country to remain secular on marches through the capital Ankara.

A man calling himself "a soldier of Allah" shot dead Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin and wounded four others at a top administrative court on Wednesday.

He was immediately arrested. At least three others have since been detained.

The attack is believed to have been linked to the court's record of strictly upholding the ban on Muslim headscarves in universities and government offices.

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has Islamist roots, has been campaigning for the regulations to be relaxed or removed.

However, at the judge's funeral at Ankara's main mosque, many protesters chanted slogans calling for the government to resign, calling cabinet members a threat to the secular republic.

Ministers who attended the service were booed

Earlier, at least 15,000 protesters, from students to judges dressed in their robes, marched to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey.

"Turkey is secular and will remain secular," many chanted, in a procession broadcast live on national television.

A wreath of red and white carnations, the colours of the Turkish flag, was laid at the mausoleum. Some protesters were tearful as they kissed the building's marble stones.
The secular President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who was applauded as he attended the funeral, warned that "no-one will be able to overthrow the [secular] regime".
I hope the President is right.

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