Tens of thousands of secular Turks gathered in Istanbul Sunday, chanting slogans against the pro-Islamic government that has faced also criticism from the country's military. More than 300,000 secular Turks staged a similar rally in Ankara two weeks ago.
"Turkey is secular and will remain secular," shouted thousands of flag-waving protesters. The rally was organized more than a week ago but it came a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government rejected a stern message from the military over the country's disputed presidential election.
The ruling party candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, failed to win a first-round victory Friday. Most opposition legislators boycotted the vote and challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court.
According to the AP, Gul has promised to uphold the country's secular traditions amid concerns that his victory will strengthen the role of Islam in politics.