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One Million Rally In Support Of Secularism In Istanbul

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, the leading candidate to become Turkish president (file photo) (epa) April 29, 2007 -- An estimated 1 million supporters of secularism in Turkey rallied in Istanbul today amid tensions over the election of a new president.

The rally comes a day after the Islamist-rooted Turkish government rejected a stern warning from the secular military over the disputed election, calling its interference unacceptable in a democracy.

The military's General Staff on April 27 said it is gravely concerned about the situation and determined to defend Turkish secularism.

The candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, is a member of the ruling Islamist-rooted AK party. He has said today he will not withdraw from the race.

Secularist lawmakers boycotted the first round of parliament's vote for a new president, and have challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court.

(AP, AFP, Reuters)