Some 15,000 Muslims rallied Tuesday to protest the new secular government’s plan to curb religious education. Police moved in to quash the demonstration, and at least 13 people were injured.
“No to the military junta’s demands,” the protesters chanted. They waved red-and-white Turkish flags, in contrast to the green flags with Koranic verses carried at many previous pro-Islamic rallies.
Most of the protesters were men wearing Muslim prayer caps. A few hundred yards away from the main protest, police detained 55 people who tried to rally in front of military headquarters.
The demonstrators did not have the required permit for a rally, but authorities tolerated their protest for about five hours before ordering them to leave Ankara’s main downtown square.
When they refused, police armed with clubs marched on the crowd, pushing it toward side streets. Some demonstrators resisted, throwing stones at the officers, who sprayed them with pressurized water.
Four reporters and three cameramen were hospitalized with injuries from thrown rocks or police beatings. Three policemen and three protesters also were injured in the melee.
Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz denounced the beatings and said three police officers had been suspended pending investigation.