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Turkey: Police Move In On Islamists

Ankara, 29 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Western media say Turkish police today forcibly broke up an Islamist protest in Ankara against proposed legislation to curb religious education, as demanded by the military.

Correspondents quote witnesses as saying police used batons, dogs and water cannons to disperse some 15,000 demonstrators who had staged around five hours of protests outside the education ministry.

At least two people reportdly sustained head injuries. It was not clear whether they were protestors, journalists, or undercover members of the security forces. Earlier, police arrested 55 people as they tried to approach the military headquarters.

The fresh legislation triggering the protest was proposed by the month-old government of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and proposes to increase compulsory secular education from five to eight years. Yilmaz came to power after the previous Islamic-led government was pressured by the military to resign after it resisted implementing the educational reform. It is to be presented to parliament soon.