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Thousands Gather In Istanbul To Protest Pope --> A banner on a bridge in Istanbul hung in October reads, 'We don't want the pope in Turkey' (epa) November 26, 2006 -- Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Istanbul today to protest against Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to this predominantly Muslim country.

The demonstrators -- Reuters news agency puts the number at 20,000 -- were watched closely by around 4,000 police backed by riot trucks and armored vehicles.

The protest was organized by a pro-Islamic political party, called Felicity, whose leaders have said they are offended by Benedict's comments linking violence and Islam.

(Reuters, AP)

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