Turkish protesters clash with police over call for ‘religious’ constitution

Published April 26th, 2016 - 11:57 GMT
Turkish policemen (L) disperse demonstrators during a protest of pro-secular Turks outside the Parliament in Ankara on April 26, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)
Turkish policemen (L) disperse demonstrators during a protest of pro-secular Turks outside the Parliament in Ankara on April 26, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Protesters clashed with Turkish police on Tuesday, who fired tear gas at a crowd of demonstrators who gathered outside parliament to denounce calls for the country to adopt a religious constitution, AFP reported.

According to an AFP photographer on the scene, police dispersed a group of more than 100 demonstrators, stopping them from making a press declaration outside the parliament building in Ankara.

The protesters chanted the slogan, "Turkey will remain secular."

A few demonstrators were detained by police, and similar protests are expected in other cities.

The protests came a day after Turkish parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman said the Muslim-majority country "must have a religious constitution," adding to concerns about the ruling AK Party's increasing Islamization and marking a departure from the modern republic's founding principles.

"Why should we be in a situation where we are in retreat from religion?" Kahraman said.

However, the head of the parliament's constitution commission, AKP member Mustafa Sentop, said no such discussions were underway, saying Kahraman was not speaking on behalf of the party.

Since the AKP's re-election in November, the government has revived its plan to replace Turkey's constitution, which dates to a 1980 military coup.

So far attempts to change the constitution have failed, with critics fearing a new presidential system would give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even more power.


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